House Democrats Ask Labor Department About Beryllium Exposures

The ranking members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and its Subcommittee on Workforce Protections want a formal written response from Labor Secretary Elaine Chao concerning complaints that OSHA failed to protect its inspectors from beryllium.

The Feb. 9 letter from Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Major Owens, D-N.Y., cites recent news reports that as many as 1,000 OSHA inspectors were exposed to beryllium, although only 265 have been tested. At least three inspectors have reportedly tested positive for blood abnormalities. The letter requests:

  • Details concerning OSHA's medical monitoring and testing procedures for employees exposed to beryllium;
  • Details on the steps the Labor Department is taking with respect to inspectors with positive test results;
  • OSHA's permissible exposure limit for beryllium and whether OSHA plans to change the limit.

Although OSHA has not yet announced plans to test former employees, the Democrats ask when these tests will occur.

The letter concludes, "I am sure you agree that the federal safety and health protections afforded to all employees also include OSHA inspectors."

A spokesperson said the Department of Labor had received the letter from the congressmen and the secretary's correspondence office has assigned it to OSHA for a response.

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