Three years after OSHA's 2017 publication of Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds, the agency has revised the standard once again.
Changes to the standard in the latest final rule aim to "clarify, simplify or improve compliance" while maintaining safety for general industry workers.
Multiple sections of the standard were amended including verbage throughout “Definitions,” “Methods of Compliance,” “Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment,” “Hygiene Areas and Practices,” “Housekeeping,” “Medical Surveillance,” “Hazard Communication” and “Recordkeeping.”
The new rule also added its first addendum: Appendix A: “Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.”
According to the executive summary, changes to the standard are detailed in Section XI, Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule. The summary also states:
Broadly, OSHA proposed to add one definition and modify five existing terms in paragraph (b), Definitions; to amend paragraph (f), Methods of compliance; paragraph (h), Personal protective clothing and equipment; paragraph (i), Hygiene areas and practices; paragraph (j), Housekeeping; paragraph (k), Medical surveillance; paragraph (m), Communication of hazards; and paragraph (n), Recordkeeping; and to replace the 2017 final standard’s Appendix A with a new appendix designed to supplement the proposed definition of beryllium work area.
OSHA is finalizing these provisions as proposed, with the following exceptions. First, OSHA is revising the definition of confirmed positive to state that the findings of two abnormal, one abnormal and one borderline, or three borderline results need to occur from beryllium lymphocyte proliferation tests (BeLPTs) conducted within a three-year period. This differs from the definition proposed in the 2018 NPRM, which would have required that any combination of test results specified in the definition must be obtained within the 30-day follow-up test period required after a first abnormal or borderline BeLPT test result. Second, OSHA is modifying the proposed paragraph (j)(3), which requires employers to take certain actions when transferring materials that contain at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight or that are contaminated with beryllium outside a plant for the purpose of disposal, recycling, or reuse, to clarify that only transfers outside of a plant, including between facilities owned by the same employer, are subject to the labeling requirements of paragraph (m)(3). Third, in paragraphs (k)(2)(iii) and (iv), OSHA is modifying the proposed provisions pertaining to an employer’s obligation to offer a medical examination after an employee is exposed to beryllium in an emergency. Fourth, OSHA is amending proposed paragraph (k)(7)(i) to require that an examination at a chronic beryllium disease (CBD) diagnostic center be scheduled within 30 days of the employer receiving certain types of documentation, listed in paragraph (k)(7)(i)(A) and (B), that trigger evaluation for CBD.
OSHA is further revising proposed paragraph (k)(7) by adding a new provision,
paragraph (k)(7)(ii), which clarifies that, as part of the evaluation at the CBD diagnostic center, the employer must ensure that the employee is offered any tests deemed appropriate by the examining physician at the CBD diagnostic center and to state that if any tests deemed appropriate by the physician are not available at the CBD diagnostic center, they may be performed at another location that is mutually agreed upon by the employer and the employee. For a full explanation of comments received and OSHA’s reasoning for these revisions, see Section XI, Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule.
The agency also revised the compliance date of the final standard to September 14, 2020.
OSHA has been enforcing most of the provisions for general industry since Dec. 12, 2018. The agency began enforcing the provisions for change rooms and showers on March 11, 2019, and engineering controls on March 10, 2020. The final standard will affect approximately 50,500 workers employed in general industry and is estimated to yield minor net cost savings to employers.