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Beryllium Standard Provisions Enforcement Date Pushed Back to August 9, According to the U.S. Department of Labor
WASHINGTON, DC – July 3, 2018
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has postponed the enforcement of certain provisions of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium for general industry. Requirements including beryllium work areas, regulated work areas, methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, communication of hazards and recordkeeping will no longer be enforced until August 9, 2018.
On May 11, 2018 OSHA began enforcing the permissible exposure limits (PEL) for the construction and maritime industries, as well as other requirements for the general industry standard. However, the Agency has stated that it will not be enforcing any other provisions for beryllium exposure in those standards unless it provides notice. Certain compliance dates outlined in the rule remain unchanged. Enforcement of the general industry requirements for change rooms and showers will begin March 11, 2019, and requirements for engineering controls will begin March 10, 2020.
Back in June, OSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to further extend the compliance dates of the remaining requirements until December 12, 2018.
The Dangers of Beryllium
Beryllium is extremely toxic to lung tissue. Prolonged exposure can lead to chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating lung disease with a scary similarity to sarcoidosis. In fact, CBD is sometimes mistaken for sarcoidosis because inhalation of metal dust and fumes (specifically from aluminum, barium, beryllium) can cause granulomatous lung disease which mimics sarcoidosis. Evidence suggests even very low concentrations of beryllium may cause the disease. A fact known all to well by persons who live near beryllium refineries and even family members of factory workers; as dust is transported via workers’ clothes into their homes. For those susceptible, it is not even known if any level of beryllium exposure can be considered “safe”, exposure must be reduced. Symptoms of Chronic Beryllium disease include:
Beryllium and related compounds have been associated with chromosomal damage. A study designed to determine if toxic metal exposure was associated with suicide risk among plant workers found that beryllium exposure likely had an increased hazard ratio. Welding produces fumes that are toxic when inhaled and beryllium is a welding material of concern. Welding fumes cause lung impairment, lung disease, cough, asthma, and lung carcinoma. Eye and skin irritation, malignant melanoma, and negative reproductive effects are also reported. In pregnant women, exposure arsenic, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium (all carcinogenic) may negatively impact the fetus. Exposure is often cited as contact with second-hand smoke and living close to transportation routes or industrial exhaust.
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