Last week OSHA updated a decades old PEL for beryllium exposure. The new rule impacts General Industry, Construction and Shipyards, and lowers the PEL from 2 micrograms to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a weighted 8 hour period. It also has a “short term” exposure limit if 2 micrograms per cubic meter for 15 minute intervals.
Beryllium is toxic to human health and can cause a lung disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease if workers are exposed in excessive levels.
Employers will have 3 years to implement changes and meet requirements of the new rule, although most requirements trigger during the first year. In year two, employers must provide showers and changing rooms, and engineering controls must be put into place in year 3.
OSHA believes that the new rule will save 94 lives per year and prevent 46 new cases annually.