Do you process beryllium containing materials in your manufacturing or construction?  Beryllium has a long history, having been known to the ancient Egyptians in beryl gemstones like aquamarine and emeralds. Today, Beryllium is utilized as an alloying agent in producing beryllium copper, which is extensively used for springs, electrical contacts, spot-welding electrodes, and non-sparking tools. Beryllium is also applied as a structural material for high-speed aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, and communication satellites.

If your workers are exposed to beryllium, you should already be aware of the new exposure limits covering Beryllium and be taking steps to assure you are in-compliance with those rules. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced this week that it will start enforcement of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general industry, construction, and shipyards on May 11, 2018. This timeframe will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors. The start of enforcement had previously been set for March 12, 2018.

In January 2017, OSHA issued new comprehensive health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries, usually as a result of long-term exposure to beryllium oxide by inhalation. It can cause irreversible damage to the lungs and pneumonia.

Due to legal actions challenging the general industry standard, OSHA is considering technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will reportedly clarify and simplify compliance with requirements, and has decided to delay enforcement of the general industry standard by 60 days until May 11, 2018. Also, the agency will 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.  In the interim, if an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL, OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding.

Are you still concerned about how this OSHA standard will impact your business, let CTI assist you.