Beryllium final rule leaps final hurdle

White House Budget Office completes its review of the OSHA rule

Posted December 20, 2016

The White House Office of Management and Budget has completed its review of OSHA’s final rule addressing occupational exposure to beryllium. The rule is expected to appear in the Federal Register before the end of January 2017.

OSHA’s rulemaking on beryllium began as early as 1999. In 2002, the Agency published a Request for Information on the relationship between exposure to beryllium and adverse health effects. In addition, OSHA began conducting field surveys of selected worksites to assess exposures and control methods to reduce employee exposure to the chemical element.

Note that while the proposed rule only applied to general industry exposures, OSHA did ask for public comment on whether to cover certain construction employee exposures in the final rule.

According to OSHA, exposure to beryllium causes a disabling and potentially fatal chronic lung disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD). Exposures have also been linked to lung cancer.

The final rule will establish permissible exposure limits (PELs) and short term exposure limits (STELs) to beryllium. It will also include employer requirements covering medical surveillance, medical removal protection, regulated areas, training, and engineering controls.

The rule applies to approximately 35,000 workers in general industry. OSHA estimates the rule will prevent 92 deaths from CDB, 4 deaths from lung cancer, and 50 non-fatal cases of lung disease each year.

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