OSHA has been issuing and amending regulations to protect the safety and health of workers occupationally exposed to beryllium and beryllium compounds for the last four years.
Brief History of Beryllium Standards
In early 2017, the first rule created three separate health standards: for general industry, construction, and shipyards.
All three standards went into effect on May 20, 2017. But, OSHA enforcement of the 2017 standards has been staggered.
The agency began enforcement of the general industry’s rules, as follows:
- PEL (permissible exposure limits), exposure assessment, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, and medical removal on May 11, 2018
- Majority of other provisions on Dec. 12, 2018
- Showers and change rooms on March 11, 2019
- Engineering controls on March 10, 2020
For construction and shipyard industries, the agency is currently only enforcing beryllium PELs. Other requirements for these two industries were published in a proposed rule on Oct. 8, 2018.
OSHA’s Spring 2020 Regulatory Agenda shows these rules moving from the proposed rule stage to a final rule stage sometime in 2020.
New Final Beryllium Rule for General Industry
The newly published final rule for workers occupationally exposed to beryllium and beryllium compounds in general industry appeared on July 14, 2020, and takes effect on Sept. 14, 2020.
OSHA estimates the revisions to this standard will protect approximately 50,500 workers. Changes include:
- Definitions for Beryllium sensitization, Beryllium work area, CBD diagnostic center, Chronic beryllium disease (CBD), Confirmed positive, and Dermal contact with beryllium
- Methods of Compliance
- Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment
- Hygiene Areas and Practices
- Medical Surveillance
- Hazard Communication
- Recordkeeping, and
- A new Appendix A: “Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.”
Some of the key provisions include:
- Permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium of 2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average. This change represents a ten-fold decrease from the previous PEL.
- A short-term exposure limit for beryllium of 0 μg/m3as determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes.
- Mandates for 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.
This is only a brief overview of the new requirements. Employers need to understand the details of these changes and how they will impact your employees and workplace.
Let Worksite Medical help you.
Protecting Workers from Hazardous Chemicals
Medical surveillance is a thorough and easy way for employers to protect their workers from hazardous substances such as beryllium.
Worksite Medical has mobile medical units that travel directly to your job site to test employees. We have the full resources of a lab within our units, including a heavy metals panel that can test workers for exposure. Employers don’t have to worry about losing productivity with on-site testing.
Complete the form below, or call us at 1-844-OCCUMED to get your free quote or schedule your testing today.