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OSHA Beryllium Rule Lowering Exposure Limits Takes Effect, But It Faces Uncertain Future

OSHA Beryllium Rule Lowering Exposure Limits Takes Effect, But It Faces Uncertain Future
  • May 30, 2017

Regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reduce worker exposures to beryllium “to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer” took effect on May 20, 2017. An OSHA spokesperson said on May 22, however, that the agency received a petition to stay the effective date, which it is reviewing. The spokesperson pointed out that while OSHA considers the stay petition, the March 2018 enforcement date has not been changed.

Employers must comply with most of the new rule’s requirements by March 12, 2018. Employers have an additional year to implement the changing rooms and showers requirement (March 11, 2019) and an additional two years to implement engineering controls (March 10, 2020). (For details of the rule, see our article, OSHA Issues Final Rule to Protect Workers from Beryllium Exposure.)

The rule’s effective date originally was January 9, 2017, but was delay to March 21, then to May 20, by the new Administration. When OSHA first published the rule, it projected the rule will provide annual net benefits of about $560.9 million, 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 realized.

In addition to the stay petition, the rule is being challenged in court. Airborne et al. v. OSHA, No. 17-1124 (8th Cir. filed Jan. 18. 2017). The case is a consolidation of several other suits filed by industry groups. The first briefings are due July 10.

Adding another complication, on April 27, 2017, OSHA submitted an “Occupational Exposure to Beryllium” proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget. Details of the proposal have not been made public.

Please contact your Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss these developments and your specific organizational needs.

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