OHSA enforcement of modified beryllium safety standards begins in mid-May

IN JANUARY 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (www.osha.gov) issued comprehensive new industrial regulations for worker exposure to beryllium, an element that can cause severe damage to the lungs and even death. Now, little more than a year later, OHSA is back with modified beryllium standards that the agency will begin enforcing in mid-May.

According to a March 2 news release from OSHA, enforcement of the agency’s final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general, construction, and shipyard industries will begin on May 11, 2018 — two months later than the previously announced enforcement start date of March 12, 2018. “This timeframe will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors,” the news release states.

OSHA officials say the new final rule on beryllium is the result of feedback the agency received from stakeholders in industry and other sectors following the start of federal enforcement of the comprehensive beryllium health standards issued in early 2017. OSHA is applying “technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will clarify and simplify compliance with requirements,” according to the news release. “OSHA will also begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.”

If an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL limits, “OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance,” according to the news release.

The new release offers a reminder that “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

Here at Safety Solutions & Supply, team members are up to date with OSHA’s new beryllium safety standards and prepared to share details about the final rule with current and future clients, particularly those with welding activities. Exposure to beryllium can be an issue when welding involves the use of “black beauty” and similar glass-based blasting media. We have the full capabilities to support clients with beryllium-related program development, exposure control, and exposure evaluations.

The next article coming up on this blog site will provide much more information about beryllium — what it is exactly, where and how people can be exposed to it, and how it can adversely affect a person’s health.

For general information about the safety services, including industrial hygiene assessments; training programs; and products we offer at Safety Solutions & Supply, visit our website at http://solutionsinsafety.com/ or call us toll free at 1-866-537-2262.

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