WHAT IS BERYLLIUM?
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.
Reopening of the Beryllium NPRM Docket
The docket for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds has been reopened to allow for submission of post-hearing comments and briefs. In accordance with the hearing procedures set by OSHA, parties who filed a notice of intention to appear at the hearings may submit additional information and data relevant to the proceeding through April 21, 2016; final briefs, arguments, and summations must be submitted by May 6, 2016. Please see the memorandum to reopen the docket from Regulations.gov at the following link:
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.
OSHA recently released a proposed rule to protect workers exposed to beryllium. This is a proposal, not a final rule. OSHA encourages the public to participate in the development of the rule by submitting comments and participating in a public hearing if one takes place. Your input will help OSHA develop an effective health standard that protects employees from beryllium-related health effects to the extent feasible for employers.
OSHA estimates that the proposed rule will prevent 96 premature deaths each year and prevent 50 new cases of CBD per year, once the full effects of the rule are realized.
The proposed rule is the result of OSHA's extensive review of scientific evidence relating to the health risks of exposure to beryllium, analysis of the diverse industries where worker exposure to beryllium occurs, and outreach efforts to affected stakeholders. OSHA carefully considered input from industry and labor stakeholders, recommendations from small business representatives, and feedback from subject matter experts and partner agencies in developing the proposed rule.
OSHA currently enforces a 40-year-old permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium in general industry, construction and shipyards that is outdated and does not adequately protect worker health.
Select from the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the proposed rule and ways you can contribute during the rulemaking process.
Request for Information Notice 67:70707-70712 (November 26, 2002).
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 Health Effects and Risk Assessment - OSHA has carefully evaluated the health effects and risk of morbidity and mortality associated with occupational exposure to beryllium. These assessments can be found in the NPRM and an associated risk assessment background document detailing the risk assessment process. OSHA welcomes public comments to these documents during the public hearing.
Preliminary Economic Analysis - The PEA details OSHA's estimation of costs, benefits, and other economic impacts of the proposed rule. OSHA welcomes public comments on the PEA.
OSHA welcomes public comments to these documents during the public hearing
Federal Docket for Beryllium Rulemaking - Visit the federal docket folder 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.
OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page - OSHA's Safety and 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 and 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.
Beryllium Hearing Transcripts
OSHA conducted an informal public hearing on its proposed rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds on March 21-22, 2016. The hearing transcripts are available on Regulations.gov at the following links:
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium has been published in the Federal Register. The proposed rule is available here.
- Revised Beryllium Safety and Health Topics Page
- NEW OSHA Fact Sheet – Health Effects of Exposure to Beryllium (PDF). (2015).
- NEW OSHA InfoSheet – Beryllium Safety in the Workplace (PDF). (2015).
- NEW OSHA Fact Sheet – OSHA’s Proposed Beryllium Rule: Overview (PDF). (2015).
- NEW Beryllium Docket Content Report XLS | XLSX (2015).