OSHA Significantly Reduces Exposure Limits to Beryllium and its Compounds
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposes to amend its existing exposure limits for occupational exposure in general industry to beryllium and beryllium compounds and to promulgate a substance-specific standard for general industry regulating occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. In a proposed rule published on Aug. 7, 2015, OSHA proposes a new permissible exposure limit (PEL). Comments must be submitted by Nov. 5, 2015.
The proposed rule would reduce exposure limits to one-tenth of the amount currently allowed. Currently, OSHA’s eight-hour permissible exposure limit for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. OSHA’s proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposed rule contains several ancillary provisions, including requirements for exposure assessment, personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE), medical surveillance, medical removal, training, and regulated areas or access control.
The element beryllium is a grey metal that has great strength to weight properties, which has been classified as a strategic and critical material by the United States Department of Defense. According to OSHA, inhaling or contacting beryllium can cause an immune response that results in an individual becoming sensitized to it. Individuals with beryllium sensitization can develop a debilitating disease of the lungs called chronic beryllium disease if they inhale airborne beryllium after becoming sensitized.
The proposed rule can be found here.