New Developments at OSHA (July 2017)

Legal Alert

OSHA Seeks to Reverse Beryllium Rule For Certain Industries

Beryllium, a lightweight metal, presents hazards in the workplace. It has been linked to lung cancer and Chronic Beryllium Disease, a debilitating lung disease that can be caused by prolonged exposure. In the last days of the Obama administration, OSHA issued a final rule that reduced the permissible exposure level for beryllium from an 8-hour time-weighted average of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms. Now OSHA seeks to reverse that rule with respect to certain industries by excluding construction and shipbuilding from the rule. OSHA announced on June 27, 2017 that it will not enforce the rule as to those industries while it determines whether to amend the rule to exclude them, citing concerns that the construction and shipbuilding industries were not presented with a meaningful opportunity to comment on the rule before it was issued in January 2017. OSHA’s proposed amendment has raised strong opposition from labor interests.

Those who are interested in submitting written comments to OSHA may do so by August 28, 2017 via one of the methods described in OSHA’s proposed rule.

OSHA Considering Reshaping the Voluntary Protection Program

OSHA is also seeking comments and suggestions from the public on ways to strengthen or reshape the Voluntary Protection Program (“VPP”). The VPP is a program by which OSHA works with an employer (that applies to participate in the VPP) and any applicable labor representatives to implement a comprehensive safety and health management system at the employer’s workplace. OSHA will hold a public meeting in Washington, D.C. on July 17, 2017 to solicit input on the program. Comments can also be posted online at any time before September 15, 2017.

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