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OSHA releases proposed beryllium rule for general industry

Agency says rule is intended to simplify, improve compliance

Posted December 11, 2018

OSHA published a beryllium proposed rule for general industry in the December 11 Federal Register, which the Agency says is intended to clarify certain provisions and simplify or improve compliance.

The proposed rule adds the definition of “beryllium sensitization” and revises the definitions of “beryllium work area,” “chronic beryllium disease (CBD),” “CBD diagnostic center,” “confirmed positive,” and “dermal contact with beryllium.”

Other proposed clarifications include the following:

Written exposure control plan – OSHA proposes two wording changes to these provisions. 1910.1024(f)(1)(i)(D) deals with procedures for minimizing cross-contamination within beryllium work areas. The proposal would remove the word “preventing” from the text to clarify that procedures for minimizing cross-contamination may not totally eliminate the transfer of beryllium, but should minimize cross-contamination, including between surfaces, equipment, clothing, materials, and articles.

1910.1024(f)(1)(ii)(B) specifies that when an employer is notified that an employee is eligible for medical removal, referred for evaluation at a CBD diagnostic center, or shows signs or symptoms associated with airborne exposure to or dermal contact with beryllium, the employer must update the written exposure control plan as necessary. OSHA proposes to replace the phrase “airborne exposure to and dermal contact with beryllium” with “exposure to beryllium.” The Agency says this simplifies the language of the provision while still capturing all potential exposure scenarios currently covered.

Personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE) – OSHA proposes two revisions for 1910.1024(h). The first relates to removal and storage of PPE. The existing rule requires employers to ensure that each employee removes all beryllium-contaminated PPE at the end of the work shift, at the completion of tasks involving beryllium, or when PPE becomes visibly contaminated with beryllium, whichever comes first. OSHA is proposing to modify the phrase “at the completion of tasks involving beryllium” in paragraph (h)(2)(i) by changing “tasks” to “all tasks.”

Paragraph (h)(3)(iii) requires the employer to inform in writing the persons or the business entities who launder, clean, or repair the PPE of the potentially harmful effects of airborne exposure to and dermal contact with beryllium and that the PPE must be handled in accordance with 1910.1024. OSHA is proposing to replace the phrase “airborne exposure to and dermal contact with beryllium” with “exposure to beryllium.”

Hygiene areas and practices – OSHA proposes two changes, which apply to paragraphs 1910.1024(i)(1) and (i)(2), to maintain the existing protections for employees who have dermal contact with beryllium if the proposed change to the definition of beryllium work area is finalized. The third change clarifies the requirements for cleaning beryllium-contaminated PPE prior to entering an eating or drinking area.

Housekeeping – OSHA proposes that provisions pertaining to recycling and disposal also address reuse because in some cases workers may be exposed to materials containing or contaminated with beryllium that are directly reused without first being recycled into a different form.

OSHA is also proposing some minor changes in terminology and organization to improve the clarity and internal consistency of the standard.

Medical surveillance – OSHA proposes changes to two medical surveillance provisions. Under the existing regulations, the employer must provide a medical examination within 30 days after determining that the employee shows signs or symptoms of CBD or other beryllium-related health effects or that the employee has been exposed to beryllium in an emergency. OSHA proposes removing the requirement for a medical examination within 30 days of exposure in an emergency and adding a paragraph which would require the employer to offer a medical examination at least one year after but no more than two years after the employee is exposed to beryllium in an emergency.

OSHA proposes expanding paragraph (k)(7)(i) to require that the employer provide, at no cost to the employee and within a reasonable time after consultation with the CBD diagnostic center, certain tests if deemed appropriate by the examining physician at the CBD diagnostic center.

Hazard communication – OSHA proposes modifying the language in paragraph (m)(3) to remove the words “bag and” and insert the word “immediate” to clarify that the employer need only label the immediate container of beryllium-contaminated items. OSHA says it is proposing this change to be consistent with the HCS regarding bags or containers within larger containers.

OSHA proposes modifying the language in paragraph (m)(4)(ii)(A) by adding the word “dermal” to contact with beryllium. OSHA says this revision would clarify its intent that employers must ensure that exposed employees can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the health hazards caused by dermal contact with beryllium.

Recordkeeping – OSHA proposes removing the requirement to include each employee’s Social Security number (SSN) in the air monitoring data, medical surveillance, and training provisions. This change would not require employers to delete employee SSNs from existing records, nor would it mandate a specific type of identification method that employers should use on newly-created records, but would allow employers the flexibility to develop systems that work best for their situation.

Comments will be accepted on the proposed rule until February 11, 2019. Search for OSHA-2018-0003 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

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