Search form

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Protect Workers from Beryllium Exposure

By Nickole C. Winnett
  • February 8, 2017

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule “to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer” in workers by limiting their exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. Beryllium and beryllium compounds are used in the aerospace, shipyard, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical, and defense industries.

The rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over eight hours. It establishes a new short-term exposure limit for beryllium of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period.

Under the rule, employers must:

  • use engineering and work practice controls (such as ventilation or enclosure) to limit worker exposure to beryllium;
  • perform exposure monitoring for employees who are or may reasonably be expected to be exposed to airborne beryllium;
  • provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure to below the PEL;
  • limit worker access to high-exposure areas;
  • post warning signs at regulated areas;
  • label each bag and container of clothing, equipment, and materials contaminated with beryllium;
  • develop a written exposure control plan; and
  • train workers on beryllium hazards.

In addition, the OSHA rule requires employers to make available medical examinations to monitor exposed workers when workers are reasonably expected to be exposed at or above the action level for more than 30 days per year. The rule also provides medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.

The rule contains standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards. OSHA estimated that the rule will save 94 lives from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year, once the impact of the rule is completely realized. It estimates that the rule will provide net benefits of about $560.9 million annually.

The agency said about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium in their workplaces, including about 11,500 construction and shipyard workers who may conduct abrasive blasting operations using slags that contain trace amounts of beryllium.

According to OSHA, the majority of workers affected by this rule are exposed in general industry operations, such as beryllium metal and ceramic production, non-ferrous foundries, and fabrication of beryllium alloy products.

OSHA said the final rule replaces a 40-year-old permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium that was outdated and did not adequately protect worker health. 

Jackson Lewis attorneys can provide guidance on complying with this and other federal safety programs.

©2017 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

November 16, 2017

Transportation Department Expands Drug Testing Panel to Include Certain ‘Semi-Synthetic’ Opioids

November 16, 2017

Employers regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should revise their drug and alcohol testing policies to conform to new DOT regulations that added four “semi-synthetic” opioid drugs to the DOT drug testing panel. The new regulations go into effect on January 1, 2018. DOT announced in a rule published in the Federal... Read More

October 27, 2017

What Employers Need to Know about OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule for Construction

October 27, 2017

Full enforcement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new respirable crystalline silica rule in the construction industry began on October 23, 2017, according to the agency. The silica rule is one of the most comprehensive health standards ever issued for the construction industry and significantly reduces the... Read More

August 23, 2017

Mine Safety Agency Implements Medical Standards Action Plan for Inspectors, Technical Personnel

August 23, 2017

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will implement an action plan for employees who do not meet the agency’s medical standards.   As a condition of employment, MSHA inspectors and technical personnel must undergo periodic medical examinations, including vision and hearing tests, and meet medical standards set by the Office... Read More

Related Practices