Final Rule on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium Set in May
Beryllium is a grey metal that has a high melting point with great thermal stability and conductivity. It is stronger than steel but is lighter than aluminum. Beryllium is used in a variety of tasks and forms but most often as an alloy to copper. This makes it an excellent material for use in producing springs, bushings and bearings.
Working around Beryllium can be incredibly hazardous to workers if they come into contact with, or inhale dust, fumes, mist or solutions.
The common health hazard when inhaling Beryllium is a lung disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD). This most commonly affects Welders, Furnace Tenders, Machine Operators and Metal Fabricators.
OSHA’s final rule requires employers to take additional protective measures for workers who may be exposed to these risks. The rule applies to general, construction and shipyard industries and will take effect on May 11, 2018. The previous schedule for the final rules was set last March 12, 2018 but has been pushed back.
Published last January 9, 2017, the final rule implements new Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and provisions that will enhance workers’ protection in the workplace. There will be a new lower 8-hour PEL and short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 15 minutes for workers in construction and shipyard industries.
During the interim, OSHA will offer employers assistance in order to understand and comply with the new rule. In OSHA Standard 1910.1024, employers are required by OSHA to conduct initial monitoring to assess the 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) exposure of their workers. There will also be an initial monitoring to assess short-term exposure of 15-minute personal breathing zone.
OSHA is expected to release more informational documents in the coming weeks on steps employers can take as well as reminders of the limits.
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