OSHA has issued a direct final rule (DFR) clarifying aspects of the beryllium standard for general industry as it applies to processes, operations, or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing less than 0.1% beryllium by weight.

The final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds, which was published on January 9, 2017, is intended to reduce the risk of  health problems like chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer among employees exposed to beryllium and beryllium compounds.OSHA concluded that the new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) PEL of 0.2 µg/ m3 reduced this significant risk to the maximum extent feasible.

Based on information submitted to the record, in the final rule OSHA issued three separate standards—general industry, shipyards, and construction. In addition to the revised PEL, the final rule established a new short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 µg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period and an action level of 0.1 µg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA, along with a number of ancillary provisions intended to provide additional protections to employees, such as requirements for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and equipment, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping similar to those found in other OSHA health standards.

This DFR amends the text of the beryllium standard for general industry to clarify OSHA’s intent with respect to certain terms in the standard, including the definition of Beryllium Work Area (BWA), the definition of emergency, and the meaning of the terms dermal contact and beryllium contamination. It also clarifies OSHA’s intent with respect to provisions for disposal and recycling and with respect to provisions that the Agency intends to apply only where skin can be exposed to materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight.

The direct final rule will become effective on July 4, 2018, unless the Agency receives significant adverse comments by June 4, 2018.