Beryllium

Frequently Asked Questions

Beryllium is a lightweight but extremely strong metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunications, medical, and defense industries. Beryllium-copper alloys are widely used because of their electrical and thermal conductivity, hardness, and good corrosion resistance. Beryllium oxide is used to make ceramics for electronics and other electrical equipment because of its heat conductivity, high strength and hardness, and good electrical insulation. Metal slags and fly ash (a byproduct of coal-fired power plants) may also contain trace amounts of beryllium (considerably <0.1% by weight).

Inhaling airborne beryllium can cause a lung disease called chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Occupational exposure to beryllium has also been linked to lung cancer. However, CBD is the primary health risk for beryllium workers. In the preamble, OSHA states that there is greater uncertainty regarding the lung cancer risk estimates than for the CBD risk estimates.

Around 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium on the job. Exposures occur when beryllium and beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air. Worker exposures to beryllium can occur in settings such as foundry and smelting operations; fabricating, machining, and grinding beryllium metal and alloys; beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing; and dental lab work.

In addition to the operations described above, the final rule covers operations involving trace amounts of beryllium (< 0.1% by weight) where workers may nevertheless be exposed to beryllium above the action level. Workers at fossil fuel-fired power plants may encounter beryllium in certain plant processes. Additionally, in the construction and shipyard industries, abrasive blasters and support personnel may be exposed to beryllium from slags. In these operations, beryllium exposure may occur as a result of high dust levels generated despite the low beryllium content of the material.

CBD is a chronic granulomatous1 lung disease caused by inhalation of airborne beryllium by an individual who is beryllium-sensitized. OSHA’s definition of chronic beryllium disease provides a general understanding of the term; it is not intended to provide the criteria for the diagnosis of CBD.

In the early stages of CBD, an individual may not experience any symptoms. However, over time, symptoms may develop including shortness of breath with physical activity, dry cough that will not go away, fatigue, night sweats, chest and joint pain, or loss of appetite.

Due to the variability in presentation of CBD symptoms and progression of the disease examining physicians have discretion to select the appropriate tests for the individual patient. Diagnostic tests to identify CBD may include a BeLPT, pulmonary function testing, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) (with evidence of immune cell infiltrates), and transbronchial biopsy. The BeLPT, like any diagnostic test, can yield false negative or false positive results, and physicians should be aware that BeLPT test results can sometimes be negative even in people with known CBD. There is no known cure for CBD, however, treatment may include corticosteroids, oxygen, and other means to ease symptoms or slow disease progression. For more information, please see https://www.osha.gov/beryllium/health-effects.


[1]A granulomatous lung formation is a focal collection of inflammatory cells (e.g., T-cells) creating a nodule in the lung (85 FR 42602). The formation of the type of lung granuloma specific to a beryllium immune response can occur only in those with CBD (82 FR 2492–2502), and detecting these granulomas helps to distinguish CBD from other occupationally associated chronic pulmonary diseases (85 FR 42602).

Beryllium sensitization (BeS) is the activation of the body's immune response to beryllium, which can result from inhalation or skin exposure to beryllium dust, fume, mist or solutions. Once a worker is sensitized to beryllium, any subsequent inhalation exposure to beryllium puts them at risk of developing chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Beryllium sensitization is essential for development of CBD; however, not every beryllium-sensitized person will develop CBD.

Because there may be no physical or clinical symptoms, illness, or disability associated with beryllium sensitization, the standard requires that specialized testing be provided to certain beryllium-exposed workers to determine whether a worker has developed an immunological sensitivity to beryllium. (See paragraph (k) of the beryllium standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards for more information on workers' medical surveillance eligibility.)

The beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT) is used to determine if an individual has an immunological sensitivity to beryllium. It is a recognized diagnostic test for measuring the immune response to beryllium (i.e., establishing beryllium sensitization), although some sensitized individuals may not be “confirmed positive” for beryllium sensitization by BeLPT testing. For purposes of the beryllium standards, individuals with either two abnormal BeLPT test results, an abnormal and a borderline test result, or three borderline test results are considered to be "confirmed positive" for beryllium sensitization and must be offered further evaluation to determine if they also have CBD.

The new rule lowers the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and requires that employers use feasible engineering controls - such as ventilation along with work practice controls - to reduce workers' inhalation exposure to beryllium. Research indicates that inhalation exposure to airborne beryllium particulate is necessary for CBD to develop in workers. Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA expects it to prevent 90 deaths from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of CBD each year.

NIOSH studies have shown that worker protection models such as Materion's beryllium worker protection model (BWPM) have reduced risks of beryllium-related diseases for Materion's facilities. For more information on Materion's BWPM, see http://beryllium.eu/productstewardship/beryllium-safety-model-2/.

OSHA's new PELs are 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (μg/m3), as an 8-hour time-weighted average, and 2.0 μg/m3 as determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes. The PELs are the same for all employers covered by the standards (general industry, construction, and shipyards). The new 8-hour TWA PEL represents a ten-fold decrease from the previous PEL.

OSHA established a PEL of 0.2 μg/m3 because the agency determined that occupational exposure to beryllium at the previous PELs resulted in a significant risk of developing CBD or dying from CBD or lung cancer, and that compliance with a 0.2 μg/m3 PEL would substantially reduce that risk.

The beryllium rule applies to occupational exposure to beryllium in all forms, compounds, and mixtures in general industry, construction, and shipyards.

 

The rule does not apply to articles that contain beryllium and that the employer does not process. OSHA defines an article, under its Hazard Communication standard, as "a manufactured item other than a fluid or particle: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which under normal conditions of use does not release more than very small quantities, e.g., minute or trace amounts of a hazardous chemical, and does not pose a physical hazard or health risk to employees."

The rule also exempts materials containing less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight where the employer has objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to beryllium will remain below the action level of 0.1 µg/m3, as an 8-hour time weighted average, under any foreseeable conditions. For example, if the only beryllium-containing material in an employer's facility contains less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight, and that facility has only one process that can release beryllium in excess of the action level, the standard applies only in locations where that process can release beryllium in excess of the action level. If the employer has objective data indicating that exposures will not reach the action level in a particular location within the facility then the standard, including the dermal contact provisions, does not apply in that part of the facility.

OSHA's general industry beryllium standard includes an exemption for materials containing less than 0.1 % beryllium by weight but with the qualifier that an employer claiming this exemption must have objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to beryllium will remain below the action level of 0.1 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions. See "Are there exemptions to this rule?" and "How can objective data be used to determine where the beryllium standard applies to employers who handle or use materials containing less than 0.1 % beryllium by weight?" for a discussion of OSHA's interpretation of "any foreseeable conditions" and a discussion of how employers can determine if they are covered under the standard.

For example, for coal combustion residuals that contain 2 ppm (0.0002%) beryllium by weight, the final action level of beryllium of 0.1 µg/m3 would be exceeded only when total dust concentrations exceed 50 mg/m3, a level that is over 3 times higher than the current PEL of 15 mg/m3 for PNOCs (particles not otherwise classified) as listed in 29 CFR 1910.1000 (Table Z-1- Limits for Air Contaminants). In this particular situation, if the employer has objective data that shows that exposures during an operation are consistently below the PEL for PNOCs of 15 mg/m3, or even up to 3 times the PEL for PNOCs, then beryllium exposures would not exceed the action level under any foreseeable conditions and this operation would be exempt from the beryllium standards.

The main industries affected include:

  • Beryllium Production
  • Beryllium Oxide Ceramics and Composites
  • Nonferrous Foundries
  • Secondary Smelting, Refining, and Alloying
  • Precision Turned Products
  • Copper Rolling, Drawing, and Extruding
  • Fabrication of Beryllium Alloy Products
  • Welding
  • Dental Laboratories
  • Construction and Shipyards (Abrasive blasting with slags)
  • Fossil Fuel-fired Electric Power Generation

Approximately 7,300 establishments will be affected, including general industry, construction, and shipyards.

About 62,000 workers will be affected.

The rule is estimated to provide average annual net benefits over the next 60 years of $560.9 million each year. The total annualized cost of the rule is $73.9 million.

The rule is expected to result in annual costs of about $10,100 for the average workplace covered by the rule. The annual cost to a firm with fewer than twenty employees will be less, averaging about $2,600.

OSHA consulted with small businesses through the normal Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) process and as part of its extensive analysis of the impacts on small businesses.

Before issuing its proposed beryllium rule, OSHA convened a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel in accordance with SBREFA. After issuing the proposed rule, OSHA gave members of the public, including small businesses, the opportunity to express their concerns about the rulemaking through written comments, testimony at a public hearing, and submission of data and post-hearing briefs. OSHA considered all information it received from the SBREFA panel, in addition to comments and testimony on the proposed rule, to inform the final rule and evaluate its impacts on small businesses.

OSHA's beryllium standards cover exposures to beryllium in general industry, construction, and shipyards. The standards include an exemption for materials containing less than 0.1 % beryllium by weight but with the qualifier that an employer claiming this exemption must have objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to beryllium will remain below the action level of 0.1 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions. Conditions are foreseeable when they can be reasonably anticipated. Employers can use objective data, based on industry-wide surveys or calculations based on the beryllium content in dust, that represent typical exposures during the employers' operations, to determine if they are covered under the standard.

For example, for coal slag that contains 2 ppm (0.0002 %) beryllium by weight, the final action level of beryllium of 0.1 μg/m3 would be exceeded only when total dust concentrations exceed 50 mg/m3, a level that is over 3 times higher than the current 29 CFR 1910.1000 (Table Z-1-Limits for Air Contaminants) PEL of 15 mg/m3 for PNOC (particles not otherwise classified). In this particular situation, if the employer has objective data that shows that exposures are below the PEL for PNOCs, or even up to 3 times the PEL for PNOCs, then this material would be exempt from the beryllium standards.

Except as discussed below, when performing tasks at the typical construction site, exposure to common building materials containing trace amounts of beryllium will normally not trigger the requirements of the beryllium standard. The beryllium standard applies to occupational exposure to beryllium in all forms, compounds, and mixtures in the construction industry. However, the rule exempts from coverage materials containing less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight where the employer has objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to beryllium will remain below the action level of 0.1 µg/m3, as an 8-hour time weighted average, under any foreseeable conditions. When these circumstances are met, none of the requirements of the standard apply.

OSHA’s analysis of its own sampling data demonstrates that exposures from construction operations involving rock, soil, and concrete are highly unlikely to exceed the action level in typical circumstances. Given the low levels of beryllium in rock, soil, and concrete, airborne dust concentrations would have to be extremely high for exposures to even approach the beryllium action level.[1] The same is true for brick, which may contain beryllium in trace amounts comparable to these materials.[2] Dust concentrations from rock, soil, concrete, or brick would typically exceed the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for total airborne dust (15 mg/m3), or particulates not otherwise classified (PNOC), long before the beryllium action level is reached. In the case of concrete, the level of airborne dust required to reach the beryllium action level would also surpass the PEL for respirable crystalline silica (50 µg/m3) many times over. Thus, the action level for beryllium would only be reached under extremely dusty conditions that would also exceed the PELs for PNOC and respirable crystalline silica.

OSHA considers this data sufficient to demonstrate that exposure to rock, soil, concrete, and brick at the typical construction site will not result in beryllium exposure above the action level under foreseeable conditions. Outside of the materials listed above and certain abrasive blasting media (see FAQ: Who is at risk from exposure to beryllium?), OSHA is not aware of any other building materials at the typical construction site that contain beryllium. However, for any material containing comparable levels of beryllium, an employer may rely on objective data that exposures in its operations are consistently below the PEL for PNOC to demonstrate that exposure from these materials would not exceed the beryllium action level under foreseeable conditions.

However, if an employer has reason to believe that the materials at its particular worksite contain beryllium at levels significantly above average—for example, the employer is performing construction tasks at a beryllium manufacturing facility—or that a particular process produces abnormally high levels of dust such that beryllium exposure might foreseeably reach the action level (as with abrasive blasting), that employer would be required to comply with the applicable provisions of the beryllium standard. In determining whether either of these scenarios applies, a construction employer may rely on objective data provided by an individual qualified by knowledge or experience to assess beryllium exposures at the employer’s worksite.

 


[1] See Beryllium Air Samples at Construction Sites: An Analysis of OSHA OIS Sample Results 2012-2018, available in the rulemaking docket as Document ID OSHA-H005C-2006-0870-2235. The beryllium content of soil and rock averages less than 2 ppm while the beryllium content of concrete is typically less than 1 ppm. See id. pp. 2, 6.

[2] Some bricks may contain up to 50% fly ash, which in turn may contain beryllium in trace amounts. See Beryllium Final Rule (2017), Final Economic Analysis, Chapter IV, pp. 651-52, available at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=OSHA-H005C-2006-0870-2042.

Employers must use engineering and work practice controls as the primary way keep exposures at or below the PEL.

  • Engineering controls include using process isolation, ventilated enclosures, or local exhaust ventilation to keep beryllium from being dispersed throughout a work area.
  • Examples of work practices to control beryllium exposures include keeping surfaces clean by using a HEPA-filtered vacuum or by wetting down dust before sweeping it up. See the "How does OSHA define 'as free as practicable'" section for further information.
  • If engineering and work practice controls cannot keep exposures at or below the PEL, employers must provide respiratory protection to affected employees.

Respirators are not as protective as engineering controls, and they aren't always as practical either. Unless respirators are selected for each worker, individually fitted, periodically refitted, and regularly maintained, and unless filters and other parts are replaced as necessary, workers will not be protected from beryllium exposure. In many cases, workers using only respirators would also have to wear more extensive and expensive protection. Even when respirators are selected, fitted, and maintained correctly, they must be worn consistently and correctly by workers to be effective. Respirators can also be uncomfortable, especially in hot weather, and cannot be used by some workers.

The employer must provide a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) instead of a negative pressure respirator when all of the following are met: (1) respiratory protection is required by the beryllium standard; (2) an employee entitled to such respiratory protection requests a PAPR; and (3) the PAPR provides adequate protection to the employee.

Yes, worker exposures to beryllium at the new PEL, STEL, and action level can be reliably measured using existing sampling and analytical methods.

  • OSHA has carefully reviewed the available scientific literature and expert testimony contained in the rulemaking record on the ability of modern sampling and analytical methods to reliably measure beryllium at the new PEL, STEL, and action level.
  • OSHA and NIOSH methods for analyzing beryllium are able to measure concentrations at the new PEL and action level with acceptable precision.

Objective data means information, such as air monitoring data from industry-wide surveys or calculations based on the composition of a substance, demonstrating airborne exposure to beryllium associated with a particular product or material or a specific process, task, or activity. The data must reflect workplace conditions closely resembling or with a higher airborne exposure potential than the processes, types of material, control methods, work practices, and environmental conditions in the employer's current operations.

In the beryllium standard, OSHA defines objective data as information, such as air monitoring data from industry-wide surveys or calculations based on the composition of a substance, demonstrating airborne exposure to beryllium associated with a particular product or material or a specific process, task, or activity. The data must reflect workplace conditions closely resembling or with a higher airborne exposure potential than the processes, types of material, control methods, work practices, and environmental conditions in the employer's current operations.

Employers may rely on material, use, process, and air concentration information that indicates that the use or handling of a beryllium-containing material cannot, under any foreseeable conditions, release concentrations of beryllium at or above the action level (AL) of 0.1 µg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA. OSHA interprets the phrase "any foreseeable conditions" as meaning situations that can be reasonably anticipated. For example, annual maintenance of equipment during which exposures could exceed the action level would be a situation that is generally foreseeable. Similarly, the failure of ventilation systems is foreseeable, so this exemption does not apply where exposures below the action level are only expected or achieved because of the use of ventilation.

Employers can develop objective data from the air monitoring results of industry-wide surveys (e.g., conducted by trade associations for use by their members, from stewardship programs operated by manufacturers for their customers, from workers' compensation insurance carriers, etc) to show that similar operations and conditions in their workplaces do not expose employees to beryllium at or above the action level. Employers can also develop objective data using historical air monitoring data from a variety of sources, such as similar operations on different shifts, similar operations in other facilities within the same industry, and similar operations in comparable industries. For example, the beryllium content of fly ash in coal-fired power plants is low enough that if an employer ensures exposures from fly ash cannot exceed the PEL for total dust (particles not otherwise regulated), then that data, along with information about the beryllium content of the fly ash, will be sufficient to show beryllium exposures will not exceed the action level.

OSHA has included a performance option for exposure monitoring because it provides employers flexibility to assess the 8-hour TWA and STEL exposure for each employee on the basis of any combination of air monitoring data or objective data sufficient to accurately characterize employee exposures to beryllium.

OSHA considers exposures to be accurately characterized when they reflect the exposures of employees on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area. However, under the performance option, the employer has flexibility to determine how to achieve this. For example, under this option an employer could determine that there are no differences between the exposure of an employee in a certain job classification who performs a task in a particular work area on one shift and the exposure of another employee in the same job classification who performs the same task in the same work area on another shift. In that case, the employer could characterize the exposure of the second employee based on the first employee's exposure.

A BWA is a work area where the general industry rule requires special protections for workers who may be exposed from processes that release beryllium. Specifically, the beryllium standard for general industry defines beryllium work area to mean any work area where materials that contain at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight are processed either:

  1. During any of the operations listed in Appendix A of this standard; or
  2. Where employees are, or can reasonably be expected to be, exposed to airborne beryllium at or above the action level.

Due to the nature of the processes and materials used in general industry versus construction and shipyards, only the beryllium standard for general industry requires BWAs.

Establishing a BWA ensures that employees and other persons are aware of the potential presence of airborne beryllium in a BWA. Employers are required to identify and demarcate areas within general industry facilities that meet the criteria identified above so that necessary control measures can be implemented. These requirements are designed to reduce workers’ airborne exposure below the action level, and, in conjunction with other provisions such as the written control plan, hygiene, and housekeeping requirements, to minimize the transfer of beryllium to other areas of the facility.

Beryllium work areas (BWAs) are required only in general industry. Under the beryllium standard for general industry, an employer must establish a BWA in any work area where materials that contain at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight are processed either:

  1. During any of the operations listed in Appendix A of the standard; or
  2. Where employees are, or can reasonably be expected to be, exposed to airborne beryllium at or above the action level (0.1 µg/m3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average).

Appendix A to the beryllium standard for general industry contains Table A.1, which includes a list of operations that, when performed with materials containing at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight, are known to generate airborne beryllium. Where any of these operations or processes in Table A.1 are performed under the circumstances described in the column heading above the particular operations, the requirements to establish a BWA apply, regardless of the concentration of the airborne beryllium released.

Although Table A.1 identifies the beryllium-containing materials that were “generally” used in beryllium metal alloy operations and beryllium composite operations as of the most recent revision to the standard, the table is not limited to those materials alone, i.e., to materials containing just <10% or >10% by weight of beryllium, as indicated by two of the column headings, “Beryllium metal alloy operations (generally <10% beryllium by weight)” and “Beryllium composite operations (generally >10% beryllium by weight).” As stated above, the BWA requirement is triggered whenever one of the listed operations is performed on a material containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight. For example, a beryllium composite operation involving a material with 5% beryllium would be considered included in Table A.1. (See 85 FR at 42600).

A BWA must also be established where materials that contain at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight are processed in any fashion if exposures can reasonably be expected to exceed the action level. Thus, for example, if an operation involves materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight, but that operation is not listed in Table A.1, an employer is still required to establish a BWA if exposures from that operation can reasonably be expected to exceed the action level. Also, if two operations involving materials with at least 0.1% beryllium by weight combine to create airborne beryllium exposures above the action level in a work area, the employer must establish a BWA there, regardless of whether each operation would individually create exposures below the action level.

The requirements for a regulated area must be maintained as long as exposures over the PEL or STEL are reasonably expected. When exposure exceeding the PEL or STEL is no longer expected, the requirements for a regulated area no longer apply. Examples of such situations include ventilation ductwork repairs, air cleaning equipment maintenance, or intermittent or periodic work operations (e.g., anode changing in pot rooms).

The beryllium standard for general industry defines dermal contact with beryllium as skin exposure to: (1) soluble beryllium compounds containing beryllium in concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1 percent by weight; (2) solutions containing beryllium in concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1 percent by weight; or (3) visible dust, fumes, or mists containing beryllium in concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1 percent by weight. The definition also states that handling of beryllium materials in non-particulate solid form that are free from visible dust containing beryllium in concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1 percent by weight is not considered dermal contact under the standard. Due to the nature of the processes and materials used in general industry versus construction and shipyards, dermal contact with beryllium is defined only in the beryllium standard for general industry.

Several requirements in the beryllium standard for general industry are triggered where an employee has, or can be reasonably expected to have, dermal contact with beryllium. These include provisions in: paragraph (f), Written exposure control plan; paragraph (h), Personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE); paragraph (i), Hygiene areas and practices; paragraph (k), Medical surveillance; and paragraph (m), Communication of hazards.

The term “non-particulate” in OSHA’s definition indicates the agency’s intent that the beryllium materials covered by this clause are solid beryllium-containing objects with uncompromised physical integrity, which are unlikely to release beryllium that would pose a health hazard for workers (see 82 FR at 2640, 85 FR 42608).

OSHA also notes that the definition of dermal contact with beryllium would apply, and provisions triggered by dermal contact such as PPE would be required, if there is a reasonable expectation that oxidation may result in visible surface contamination with residue containing at least 0.1% by weight. Such oxidation typically occurs through manufacturing processes that heat beryllium-containing materials (for example, hot forming operations, melting, or heat treating). Where oxidization may reasonably be expected to result in visible surface contamination, an employer should follow the requirements pertaining to dermal contact with beryllium. For example, if the surface of a solid object must be heat treated, and the employer has reason to believe this will result in surface oxidation, the employer should provide workers handling that object with appropriate PPE and follow other requirements related to dermal contact with beryllium (see 85 FR 42608).

OSHA uses visibility as a clear qualitative indicator of when dermal contact with dust, fumes or mist is occurring or is reasonably anticipated to occur, so that employers can readily ascertain when to implement the provisions that are triggered by dermal contact, such as the requirement in paragraph (h) to provide employees with PPE to protect against reasonably expected dermal contact with beryllium.

At the same time, OSHA emphasizes that employers should not assess the presence of airborne beryllium by looking solely for visible indicators. Inhalation of airborne beryllium, even when not visible to the naked eye, is a risk factor for developing CBD. Accordingly, provisions triggered by the presence or reasonable expectation of airborne beryllium, such as those relating to beryllium work areas (BWAs), engineering and work practice controls, and respiratory protection, apply, regardless of whether the beryllium-containing material is visible.

The purpose of medical surveillance is to:

  • Identify adverse health effects associated with beryllium exposure so that appropriate actions can be taken, including re-evaluating engineering controls or providing medical removal protection benefits.
  • Determine if an employee has been sensitized to beryllium and at risk of developing CBD.
  • Determine the employee's fitness to use respirators.

In response to the information gained through medical surveillance, employees can take actions to improve their health, such as making job choices to reduce exposures, requesting a powered-air purifying respirator for extra protection, or making personal lifestyle or health decisions, such as quitting smoking.

Yes. A CBD Diagnostic Center is any medical facility that has an on-site pulmonary specialist and on-site capability to perform the clinical evaluation necessary to diagnose CBD. In order to qualify as a CBD Diagnostic Center, the medical facility would need to be able to perform a pulmonary function test (as outlined by the American Thoracic Society criteria), perform a bronchoalveolar lavage (lung wash), and perform a transbronchial biopsy. The medical facility would also need to be able to send the lavage fluid samples to a laboratory for analysis within 24 hours of collecting the fluid. The on-site pulmonary specialist would need to be able to interpret the biopsy results, bronchoalveolar lavage diagnostic test results.

OSHA expanded the definition of CBD Diagnostic Center in the recently published beryllium standards to include more facilities across the U.S. by removing some of the more stringent criteria for these facilities, such as the proposed requirement to be able to perform a BeLPT on-site.

No. OSHA only means that a diagnostic center must have the capabilities to perform such tests. The tests to be conducted are to be at the discretion of the examining physician with the permission of the worker.

No. The need for continued referral to a diagnostic center is to be at the discretion of the examining physician(s) in agreement with the worker and employer. A worker may only need to consult a pulmonologist at a local medical facility convenient to the worker.

No. After an employee has received a clinical evaluation at a CBD diagnostic center, the employee may choose, but is not required, to have any subsequent medical examinations for which the employee is eligible under paragraph (k) of the standard performed at a CBD diagnostic center mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee. Continued evaluation at a CBD diagnostic center may be helpful for sensitized employees and employees diagnosed with CBD because specialized evaluations may be needed to determine the appropriate tests to monitor for possible progression from sensitization to CBD and to monitor the progression of CBD if it does occur. But for employees who have not been confirmed positive, an examination with a pulmonologist at a local medical facility convenient to the worker may be appropriate if more supportive follow-up is not required at that particular time.

Under the beryllium standards, the employer is required to keep surfaces in beryllium work areas, materials designated for disposal or recycling in general industry (unless they are placed in enclosures that prevent the release of beryllium-containing particulate or solutions under 6 normal conditions of use, storage, or transport), personal protective equipment (PPE), and eating and drinking areas as free as practicable of beryllium. The requirement to maintain surfaces as free as practicable of a regulated substance is included in other OSHA health standards, such as those for lead (29 CFR 1910.1025, 29 CFR 1926.62), chromium (VI) (29 CFR 1910.1026), and asbestos (29 CFR 1910.1001). As OSHA explained in a  2014 letter of interpretation concerning the meaning of "as free as practicable" in the hexavalent chromium standard, OSHA evaluates whether a surface is "as free as practicable" of a contaminant by the efficacy of the employer's program to keep surfaces clean. A sufficient housekeeping program for beryllium may include a routine cleaning schedule and the use of effective cleaning methods to minimize exposure from accumulation of beryllium on surfaces. The intent of the "as-free-aspracticable" requirement is to ensure that accumulations of beryllium dust do not become sources of employee beryllium exposures. Therefore, any method that achieves this end is acceptable.

OSHA further intends for this term to be broad and performance-oriented, so as to allow employers in a variety of industries flexibility to decide what type of control methods and procedures are best suited to their beryllium operations, and OSHA 's beryllium standard does not specify quantitative limits for the amount of beryllium on surfaces or PPE. OSHA intends to evaluate compliance based on employer efforts under the circumstances present at each facility. For example, eating and drinking areas may need more frequent cleaning than regulated areas where workers wear PPE. Or work areas may need more frequent cleaning during periods of higher production volume.

Where appropriate, based on the beryllium content of the material, employees and employers may be able to assess whether surfaces are visibly clean as a practical guide to determine the effectiveness of a housekeeping program. For example, in industries working with materials that contain more than 0.1 % beryllium by weight, visible cleanliness may be a helpful indicator of whether a surface or PPE is as free as practicable. However, depending on the operations involved, visible cleanliness may not be necessary or appropriate as a barometer of compliance in industries that work with materials that contain less than 0.1 % beryllium by weight. If an employer maintains a reasonable, comprehensive written exposure control plan and follows the plan, the employer would likely be considered to be in compliance with the "as-free-as-practicable" requirement.

 

Under the beryllium standard, the employer is required to ensure that spills and emergency releases of beryllium are cleaned up promptly. A “spill” is an unintended and unexpected deposit of beryllium-containing material. A spill is also an “emergency” under the beryllium standard if it meets the standard’s definition of that term. Fugitive beryllium-containing dust or other particulate from regular processes or operations are not considered spills.

The words "sealed" and "impermeable" are interpreted in terms of the materials in the container. For example, if the material is contaminated with beryllium-containing dust, the container must not allow the escape of the dust under conditions of ordinary handling. If the material includes beryllium-containing liquids, it must not leak. As it relates to the production of beryllium containing metals, transfer in commerce or the handling and processing of scrap metals, OSHA intends that the enclosures selected should not allow the materials they contain to escape under normal conditions of use, storage or transport.

OSHA considers a bag to be impermeable if it meets two requirements:

  1. The bag must be made of material that, when closed, does not allow particles or dust to escape; and
  2. The bag must be of sufficient quality so it cannot be punctured or torn in the specific situation of its use, storage, or transport.

If the dissolvable bag meets both of these requirements, then OSHA would consider the bag to be impermeable under 1910.1024(h)(2)(v) even though the bag is designed to dissolve in agitating hot water. See OSHA's Letter of Interpretation dated November 29, 2018 on Dissolvable Laundry Bags for Personal Protective Clothing.

 

  • The July 14, 2020, final rule revised the general industry (29 CFR § 1910.1024) Beryllium standard.
  • The compliance date for the 2020 final Beryllium standard for general industry was September 14, 2020.
  • The August 31, 2020, final rule revised the Beryllium standards for construction (29 CFR § 1926.1124) and shipyards (29 CFR § 1915.1024).
  • The compliance date for the 2020 final Beryllium standards for construction and shipyards was September 30, 2020.

OSHA recognizes that most employers want to keep their employees safe and protect them from workplace hazards. We therefore provide extensive compliance assistance through our Compliance Assistance Specialists, website, publications, webinars, and training programs, many of which are geared toward small and mid-sized employers. For beryllium, OSHA will develop a Small Entity Compliance Guide, fact sheets, and other compliance assistance resources. For more information, see the Beryllium Rulemaking webpage.

OSHA's On-site Consultation Program provides professional, high-quality, individualized assistance to small and medium-sized businesses at no cost. This service, which is provided by consultants from state agencies or universities, is separate and independent from enforcement programs in federal or state OSHA's programs, and provides free and confidential workplace safety and health evaluations and advice to small and medium-sized businesses. In FY 2015, the On-site Consultation Program conducted more than 27,800 free visits to small and medium-sized business worksites, helping to remove more than 3.5 million workers from hazards nationwide.

The beryllium standard for general industry requires employers to establish, maintain, and demarcate the BWA according to the criteria specified in the standard (paragraphs (e)(1)(i) and (2)). The establishment of a BWA also triggers several additional requirements to minimize both airborne and dermal exposures. These requirements include establishing and maintaining a written exposure control plan (paragraphs (f)(1)(i)(D) and (F)); implementing engineering and work practice controls (paragraph (f)(2)(ii)) and certain hygiene (paragraphs (i)(1) and (2)) and housekeeping (paragraphs (j)(1)(i) and (2)) practices; and providing employee training (paragraph (m)(4)(ii)(B)).

Several requirements in the beryllium standard for general industry are triggered where an employee has, or can be reasonably expected to have, dermal contact with beryllium such as in a BWA, where operations listed in Appendix A, Table A.1 and those that can be reasonably expected to generate exposure at or above the action level, are performed on materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight (see the preamble to the July 14, 2020 final rule (85 FR at 42609) for additional discussion). These include provisions in paragraph (f), Written exposure control plan; paragraph (h), Personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE); paragraph (i), Hygiene areas and practices; paragraph (k), Medical surveillance; and paragraph (m), Communication of hazards.

For compliance with the PPE requirements, OSHA expects employers to assess workers’ PPE needs for each BWA, as required by paragraph (f)(1) of the beryllium standard and OSHA’s general PPE standards (29 CFR subpart I), and to provide their employees with appropriate PPE. Employers should also note that PPE requirements to protect against dermal exposure to beryllium may apply outside of BWAs. The standard requires employers to provide and ensure the use of appropriate PPE whenever there is a reasonable expectation of dermal contact with beryllium, regardless of whether or not the area is a BWA (see 83 FR at 63749).