Oregon OSHA Issues Proposed Changes to Regulations Regarding Occupational Exposure to Beryllium in General Industry, Construction, and Maritime

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In response to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s adoption of revised beryllium exposure standards, Oregon OSHA has proposed to adopt the federal OSHA final rules, with minor modifications that would consolidate the requirements of the general industry and construction rules into one set of rules that apply to both industries.  The new rules would:

  • lower the permissible exposure limit for beryllium from 2 µg/m3 to .2 µg/m3, calculated as an eight-hour time weighted average;
  • set a short-term exposure limit of 2 µg/m3, calculated as a 15-minute time weighted average; and
  • institute an action level of .1 µg/m3.

The new rules would also require:

  • an exposure assessment, with periodic monitoring under certain circumstances;
  • engineering and work practice controls to reduce exposure levels;
  • employers to establish and implement a written exposure control plan, which must be reviewed annually and updated as necessary;
  • regulation of employee access to areas where exposure to beryllium in excess of the permissible exposure limit and/or short-term exposure limit is likely, or can be reasonably expected to occur;
  • use of respiratory protection where it is not feasible to use engineering or work practice controls to reduce airborne exposure below the permissible exposure limit and/or short-term exposure limit;
  • employers to provide personal protective clothing and equipment where exposure to beryllium in excess of the permissible exposure limit or short-term exposure limit is likely, or can be reasonably expected to occur;
  • employers to offer medical surveillance to employees who may be exposed to beryllium at or above the action levels, or who show signs of beryllium exposure;
  • employers to give notice of beryllium hazards to potentially affected employees and provide training to minimize the potential for beryllium exposure; and
  • record-keeping to document compliance with the rule.

Oregon OSHA has scheduled two public hearings on the proposed rule, and it will accept comment on the rule until June 30, 2017.  Oregon OSHA anticipates adopting a final version of this rule in July.

Of note, the effective date of the federal regulation on which Oregon OSHA’s proposed rule is based has been delayed until May 20, 2017 to allow further review of the new federal rule.  

For more information on the proposed rule and to learn more about the opportunities to become involved in the rulemaking process, visit Oregon OSHA’s web page for the proposed rule by clicking on this link.

Key Contributors

Louis A. Ferreira
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