OSHA final beryllium rule revises occupational exposure standards

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By Joy Waltemath — OSHA has released its long-anticipated final rule governing occupational exposure to beryllium. The regulatory action amends the agency’s existing standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds.

Employees exposed to beryllium at previously permissible exposure limits face a significant risk of material impairment to their health, according to OSHA. The final rule, slated for publication in the Federal Register January 9, establishes new permissible exposure limits.

The rulemaking evidence of record indicates that workers exposed to beryllium are at increased risk of developing chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. The final regulatory action establishes new permissible exposure limits of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (0.2 μg/m3 ) as an 8-hour time-weighted average and 2.0 μg/m3 as a short-term exposure limit determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes. The final rule also includes other employee protections, such as requirements for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and equipment, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

OSHA has issued three separate standards: (1) for general industry, (2) for shipyards, and (3) for construction. This permits the agency to tailor requirements to the circumstances found in each of those sectors.

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 7, 2015. OSHA’s 942-page preamble and final rule includes several major changes from the proposed rule as a result of OSHA’s analysis of comments and evidence received during the comment periods and public hearings.

Effective and compliance dates. The final rule is effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. However, compliance dates for specific provisions are set in 29 CFR §1910.1024(o) for general industry, §1915.1024(o) for shipyards, and §1926.1124(o) for construction.

The final rule includes a number of collections of information. Notwithstanding the general date of applicability that applies to all other requirements contained in the final rule, affected parties do not have to comply with the information collections until the Department of Labor publishes a separate document in the Federal Register announcing that the Office of Management and Budget has approved them under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Source: Employment Law Daily Newsfeed

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