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January 09, 2017
OSHA releases beryllium final rule
By Ana Ellington, Legal Editor

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a final rule reducing the decades-old beryllium exposure limits. The standards apply to general industry, shipyards, and construction.

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Under the final rule, the 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) decreases to 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter (µg/m3) of air from the previous limit of 2.0 µg/m3. The rule also sets a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 µg/m3 of beryllium over a sampling period of 15 minutes.

OSHA estimates that approximately 62,000 workers are potentially exposed to beryllium in approximately 7,300 establishments in the United States.

All three standards contained in the final rule take effect on March 10, 2017, after which all three sectors have 1 year (March 12, 2018) to comply with most of the requirements. All sectors have 2 years (March 11, 2019) from the effective date to provide any required change rooms and showers and 3 years (March 10, 2020) from the effective date to implement engineering controls.

OSHA claims the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases.

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