OSHA Update: Final Rule on Beryllium Exposure

Although OSHA's beryllium standard was originally March 12, 2018, it was delayed. Get ready for the NEW enforcement date -  May 11, 2018.

Beryllium Exposure, OSHA Beryllium Exposure Final Rule

Every year, approximately 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium in their workplace! 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer in workers. Although beryllium is widely used in many industries because of its electrical and thermal conductivity, hardness, and good corrosion resistance, it’s a highly toxic metal. Developing chronic beryllium disease (CBD) or lung cancer are increased by simply inhaling the highly toxic metal.

To protect workers, OSHA will begin enforcing the beryllium standard on May 11, 2018.

OSHA estimates that the final rule will save 90 lives from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year, once the effects of the rule are fully implemented. The rule is anticipated to provide net benefits of about $560.9 million, annually.

What does OSHA say about identifying beryllium in the workplace?

Per OSHA 29 CFR1910.1024(e)(2), "The employer must identify each beryllium work area through signs or any other methods that adequately establish and inform each employee of the boundaries of each beryllium work area...The employer must limit access to regulated areas to -  persons the employer authorizes or requires to be in a regulated area to perform work duties; persons entering a regulated area as designated representatives of employees for the purpose of exercising the right to observe exposure monitoring procedures under paragraph (d)(7) of this standard; and persons authorized by law to be in a regulated area.

In general industry, exposure to beryllium can occur in the following  industries and activities:
  1. Welding
  2. Beryllium production 
  3. Beryllium oxide ceramics and composites
  4. Nonferrous foundries 
  5. Secondary smelting, refining, and alloying 
  6. Precision turned products
  7. Copper rolling, drawing, and extruding 
  8. Fabrication of Beryllium Alloy Products 
  9. Dental laboratories
Key Provisions Include:
  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over 8-hours.
  • Establishes a new short-term exposure limit for beryllium of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period.
  • Requires employers to use engineering and work practice controls (such as ventilation or enclosure) to limit worker exposure to beryllium; provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high-exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan; and train workers on beryllium hazards.
  • Requires employers to make available medical exams to monitor exposed workers and provides medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.
New OSHA Compliance Schedule:

The final rule goes into effect on May 11, 2018, and will replace a 40-year-old permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium that was outdated and did not effectively protect the health of workers.

  • Enforcement of the PEL and STEL in the construction and shipyard industry - May 11, 2018
  • Provide required change rooms and showers - March 11, 2019
  • Implement engineering controls - March 10, 2020

Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to beryllium for years by placing effective signs and labels, using engineering and work practice controls, and providing personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE).

Keep your workforce informed, protected, and motivated with highly effective identification products.

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Protecting Workers from Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds: Final Rule Overview
Delay of Enforcement of Beryllium Standards under 29 CFR 1910.1024, 29 CFR 1915.1024, and 29 CFR 1926.1124