The new Beryllium standard was issued on January 9, 2017 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The rule requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.
Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs.
To give employers sufficient time to meet the requirements and put proper protections in place, the rule provides staggered compliance dates. Once the rule is effective, employers have one year to implement most of the standard's provisions. Employers must provide the required change rooms and showers beginning two years after the effective date. Employers are also required to implement the engineering controls beginning three years after the effective date of the standards.
The final rule is available today at the Federal Register here.
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over 8-hours.
- Establishes a new short term exposure limit for beryllium of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period.
- Requires employers to: use engineering and work practice controls (such as ventilation or enclosure) to limit worker exposure to beryllium; provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high-exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan; and train workers on beryllium hazards.
- Requires employers to make available medical exams to monitor exposed workers and provides medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.
All three standards contained in the final rule take effect on March 10, 2017, after which all three sectors have one year (March 12, 2018) to comply with most of the requirements. All sectors have two years (March 11, 2019) from the effective date to provide any required change rooms and showers and three years (March 10, 2020) from the effective date to implement engineering controls.
Beryllium Rule FAQs