Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors
OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium in Construction and Shipyard Sectors can be found here.
Beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used principally in the aerospace and defense industries. The most common use is in beryllium-copper alloy because of its electrical and thermal conductivity, high strength and hardness, good corrosion and fatigue resistance, and nonmagnetic properties. Another form is beryllium oxide which is an excellent heat conductor, with high strength and hardness, and acts as an electrical insulator in some applications. Beryllium is also found as a trace element in metal slags that are sometimes used in abrasive blasting.
Workers who inhale airborne beryllium in the workplace can develop a lung condition called chronic beryllium disease or CBD. Occupational exposure to beryllium has also been linked to lung cancer. Beryllium is classified as a human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
On January 9, 2017, OSHA published its final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in the Federal Register. The final rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to a new 8-hour time-weighted-average (TWA) PEL of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg/m3). OSHA issued three separate standards in the final rule – for general industry, for shipyards, and for construction. In addition to the revised PEL, the final rule established a new short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 μg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period and an action level of 0.1 μg/m3 along with a number of ancillary provisions similar to those found in other comprehensive health standards.
OSHA is proposing to revoke the ancillary provisions applicable to the construction and shipyard sectors, but to retain the new lower PEL of 0.2 μg/m3 and the STEL of 2.0 μg/m3 for those sectors. OSHA will not enforce the ancillary provisions of the January 2017 construction and shipyard standards without further notice. This proposal does not affect the general industry beryllium standard published on January 9, 2017.
OSHA is reconsidering the need for ancillary provisions in the construction and shipyards sectors. OSHA has evidence that beryllium exposure in these sectors is limited to the following operations: abrasive blasting in construction, abrasive blasting in shipyards, and welding in shipyards. OSHA is seeking comment on whether existing standards provide protections for beryllium-exposed workers in construction and shipyards. These standards include:
- Ventilation standard in construction (1926.57)
- Criteria for personal protective equipment standard in construction (1926.95)
- Mechanical paint removers standard in shipyards (1915.34)
- Ventilation and protection in welding, cutting and heating in shipyards (1915.51)
- Hand and body protection standard in shipyards (1915.157)
- Confined and enclosed spaces standards in shipyards (Part 1915 Subpart B)
- Ventilation standard in general industry for exhaust ventilation and housekeeping (1910.94(a)(4), (a)(7))1
- Respiratory Protection standard in general industry (1910.134)1,2
- Hazard communication standard in general industry (1910.1200)1,2
This proposal provides stakeholders with an additional opportunity to offer comments on the protections needed for workers exposed to beryllium in the construction and shipyard sectors, including the need for the ancillary provisions in the January 9, 2017 construction and shipyard beryllium standards. This will provide OSHA with a robust record as it further considers the January 9, 2017 final rule's provisions for these sectors.
OSHA encourages the public to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and participating in a public hearing if one takes place. Your input will help OSHA develop an effective rule in the construction and shipyard sectors that protects employees from beryllium-related health effects to the extent feasible for employers. See the Public Participation section on this page.
1 General industry standard applicable to shipyards
2 General industry standard applicable to construction
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) - The NPRM is OSHA's formal notice of proposed regulatory action related to occupational exposure to beryllium. The NPRM contains background and explanatory information and analysis related to the proposed rule, as well as the proposed regulatory text. OSHA welcomes public comments on the NPRM.
Preliminary Economic Analysis (PEA) - The PEA details OSHA's estimation of costs, benefits, and other economic impacts of the proposed rule. OSHA welcomes public comments on the PEA.
Federal Docket for Beryllium Rulemaking - Visit the federal docket folder, number OSHA-H005C-2006-0870, on Regulations.gov to examine supporting materials for the proposed rule and review comments submitted by members of the public, including workers and worker groups, affected industries, and other interested parties. You may also submit your own comments on the beryllium rulemaking to the docket via the link above.
Occupational Exposure to Beryllium; Request for Information - Request for Information Notice 67:70707-70712 (2002, November 26).
Current & Upcoming Opportunities for Public Participation in the Rulemaking Process
Submit Comments on the Proposed Rule
Written comments regarding OSHA's proposed beryllium rule can be submitted until August 28, 2017. Comments can be submitted by:
Visiting the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov (Docket ID Number- OSHA-H005C-2006-0870).
Faxing OSHA's Docket Office at 202-693-1648 (for comments of 10 pages or less).
Sending hard-copy documents (via regular mail, express delivery, courier, or hand delivery) to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-H005C-2006-0870, Room N-3653, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 693-2350 (OSHA's TTY number is (877) 889-5627). OSHA's Docket Office accepts deliveries (hand deliveries, express mail, and messenger/courier service) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. e.t., weekdays.
What to include when submitting comments
- Agency name (OSHA);
- Docket number for the rulemaking (OSHA- H005C-2006-0870);
- Your name, address, telephone number, and organization (if any); and
- Written comments and any related supporting materials.
Request and Participate in Public Hearings
Interested parties may submit a request for a public hearing on the proposal during the comment period [insert dates]. If such a hearing is requested, OSHA will schedule one, and will publish, in advance, the time and place for the hearing in the Federal Register. Members of the public who file a timely written notice of intent to appear can testify and ask questions of other witnesses during public hearings. You are welcome to attend and participate in public hearings on the proposed beryllium rule. There is no need to notify OSHA if you plan to attend and want only to listen to testimony from other interested parties
OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page - OSHA's Safety & Health Topics page on beryllium is the Agency's main resource for information about beryllium hazards, health effects, control methods, and other standards applicable to protecting workers who are exposed to beryllium on the job.
NIOSH Safety and Health Topics Page – The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) also has a Safety and Health Topic Page on beryllium, which reflects NIOSH's extensive research on the hazards of beryllium and methods to control beryllium exposure.