OSHA backs away from beryllium rule rollback
Contrary to previously announced plans, OSHA will not revoke all of the ancillary provisions in its Beryllium Standards for Construction and Shipyards.
Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, telecommunications, information technology, defense, medical, and nuclear industries. Workers who are exposed to beryllium – by inhaling or contacting it in the air or on surfaces - are at risk for developing a debilitating disease of the lungs called chronic beryllium disease (CBD), acute beryllium disease, and lung cancer.
The move to quash the ancillary provisions was the result of lobbying by the coal-based abrasive blasting grits industry, according to news reports, which claimed that workplace safety rules already in place would provide sufficient protection for workers.
After receiving pushback from Congress and in public comments, OSHA reversed its decision.
The final rule, being published today, does extend the compliance dates for the ancillary provisions to September 2020 to account for OSHA’s new proposal to revise or remove specific provisions; and maintains enforcement of the permissible exposure limit.
The agency said that going forward, it will publish a proposal to amend the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards by more “appropriately tailoring the requirements of the standards to the exposures in these industries” – changes it says will “maintain safety and health protections for workers, facilitate compliance with the standards, and increase cost savings.”