OSHA Proposal Would Modify Recent Beryllium Standards for Construction, Shipyards

Published June 28, 2017

​OSHA has issued a proposed rule that would modify standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in construction and shipyards that were published as part of a final beryllium rule in January. The agency’s new proposal would revise the application of ancillary provisions such as housekeeping and personal protective equipment for the construction and shipyard industries, but maintain the reduced permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium of 0.2 μg/m3 averaged over eight hours, an exposure limit that replaced the previous decades-old PEL of 2 μg/m3 in January. The proposal would also maintain the new short-term exposure limit (STEL) for beryllium of 2 μg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period. The general industry standard for beryllium is not affected by the new proposal.“OSHA has evidence that exposure in these industries is limited to a few operations and has information suggesting that requiring the ancillary provisions broadly may not improve worker protection and be redundant with overlapping protections in other standards,” the agency states.

According to OSHA, evidence shows that beryllium exposure in construction and shipyards is limited to abrasive blasting in both sectors and welding in shipyards. Existing OSHA standards on ventilation and mechanical paint removers already apply to these operations. The agency seeks comments on whether these existing standards provide adequate protection for workers engaged in these operations. OSHA’s proposal will also give stakeholders an additional opportunity to comment on the protections needed for workers exposed to beryllium in construction and shipyards, including the need for the ancillary provisions published in the January 2017 beryllium final rule.

The new beryllium rule went into effect on May 20, 2017, and compliance obligations do not begin until March 2018. OSHA says it will not enforce the construction and shipyard standards of the new beryllium rule without further notice while this new rulemaking is underway.

Further details on the OSHA’s proposal and information on submitting comments is available in the Federal Register notice.