OSHA has issued a final rule that lowers workplace exposure to beryllium, a metal material that can cause lung disease. The agency reports that beryllium can become highly toxic when it is processed in a way that releases airborne dust, fumes or a mist into air that can then be inhaled by workers.
OSHA says the final rule reduces the 8-hour permissible exposure limit from 2.0 µg/m3 to 0.2 µg/m3 , and establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 µg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period. The rule also requires that employers in sectors such as construction, shipyard and general industry, take additional steps such as PPE, medical surveillance and training, and medical exams to help protect workers.
OSHA says that the previous exposure limits were outdated and did not “adequately protect workers” from exposure. He also adds that the new rule is based on “a strong foundation of science and consensus on the need for action.”
OSHA reports once the final rule is in full effect, it will save the lives of an estimated 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases. Also, once the rule is in effect, employers have 1 year to implement provisions, 2 years to provide the required change rooms and showers, and 3 years to implement the engineering controls.
Originally published Jan. 6, 2017.