Safety and OSHA News

OSHA changes its mind about beryllium rule

When it comes to OSHA’s beryllium standard for construction, it seems there isn’t as much overlap with other standards as the agency initially thought.

(Update Oct. 8, 2019):

Just a month after abandoning previous proposed changes in the standards for construction and shipyards, OSHA has published a new proposal in the Federal Register.

OSHA says the proposal ensures consistency with the general industry standard that was issued in July 2017 while clarifying certain requirements about materials containing only trace amounts of beryllium.

The proposal would revise these sections for construction and shipyards:

  • Definitions
  • Methods of Compliance
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment
  • Hygiene Areas and Practices
  • Housekeeping
  • Medical Surveillance
  • Hazard Community, and
  • Recordkeeping.

OSHA says these changes will tailor the requirements more appropriately for the exposures to workers in the construction and shipyard industries. The proposal doesn’t affect the general industry beryllium standard.

Written comments are due to Nov. 7, 2019 and can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov.

OSHA will hold a public hearing on Dec. 3, 2019, in Washington, DC.

(Our previous post on OSHA’s changes follows:)

In a Sept. 9 meeting with the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH), OSHA stated that, while there is some overlap with requirements from other standards, “for most ancillary provisions there is only partial overlap, and in some cases there is no overlap at all.”

The agency believes changes it proposed in June 2017 would “reduce protections afforded by the comprehensive standard,” according to OSHA’s presentation to the ACCSH.

Now OSHA wants to make revisions to further tailor the beryllium standard to the construction industry and better align it with the general industry standard.

On Aug. 27, the agency presented a final rule declining to revoke ancillary provisions while making a proposal to update the 2017 final rule to make the standard more suitable for the construction industry.

What’s being changed?

The changes being considered would:

  • take into account the unique issues of airborne exposure to beryllium in the industry
  • clarify OSHA’s original intent concerning provisions for disposal and recycling, as well as provisions the agency intended to apply only where skin is exposed to materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight, and
  • align medical definitions and provisions with the general industry 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Proposed revisions to the standard include:

  • adding a definition of beryllium sensitization
  • having a pulmonologist or pulmonary specialist “on staff” instead of “on site”
  • clarifying the definition of chronic beryllium disease to distinguish it from other lung diseases
  • requiring a list of operations or job titles reasonably expected to involve beryllium exposure
  • removing requirements to list procedures related to dermal contact
  • adding a requirement to list procedures used to ensure integrity of each containment used to minimize exposures to employees outside the containment
  • removing the list of specific control for exposures above the action limit, while maintaining requirements on the hierarchy of controls for exposures above permissible exposure limits
  • removing hygiene requirements
  • removing dermal contact as a trigger for PPE, and
  • removing warning label requirements.

If the ACCSH gives OSHA a recommendation, the agency will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, then provide time for stakeholders to comment on the new proposal before holding a public meeting on a date it will announce in the notice.

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