Regulatory Developments

Effective Date of Beryllium Rule Pushed Back

OSHA has announced a proposed delay in the effective date of a final rule to protect workers from exposure to beryllium. Get the new timetable and important details here.

The proposed delay—from March 21 to May 20, 2017—follows a White House regulatory freeze issued days after President Donald Trump took office. It directs the heads of executive departments and agencies to temporarily postpone the effective date of published regulations for 60 days “for the purpose of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.”

According to OSHA, the proposed delay will allow the agency to further review and consider the rule, which was published January 9, 2017. OSHA says the proposed extension of the effective date will not affect compliance dates, which begin in March 2018 and extend through March of 2020.

About 62,000 workers are exposed to the substance at work, most in general industry operations such as beryllium metal and ceramic production, foundries, and fabrication of beryllium alloy products.

OSHA estimates that the provision will save 90 lives from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year, once the effects of the rule are fully realized. Annual net benefits are estimated at over $560 million.

The beryllium rule reduces the permissible exposure limit for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over eight hours. It requires employers to:

  • Use engineering and work practice controls like ventilation or enclosure to limit exposure;
  • Provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure;
  • Limit worker access to high-exposure areas;
  • Develop a written exposure control plan; and
  • Train workers on beryllium hazards.

According to OSHA, “Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to beryllium for years, using engineering and work practice controls along with personal protective clothing and equipment.”