On September 30, 2019, OSHA issued a final rule for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyards.  Rather than revoke the ancillary provisions for these two industries as anticipated, OSHA  “determined that there is not complete overlap in protections between the standards’ ancillary provisions and other OSHA standards.”

OSHA  delayed the compliance dates for all ancillary provisions of the construction and shipyard standards until September 2020.  OSHA also announced its intent to engage in additional rulemaking to amend the standards for construction and shipyards by “more appropriately tailoring the requirements of the standards to the exposures in these industries.”

On October 8, 2019, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing revisions of the final standards for construction and shipyard industries to tailor the requirements under the ancillary provisions to the specific industries.

OSHA is proposing changes to ancillary provisions including the written exposure control requirements, engineering and work practice controls, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping and medical surveillance.  OSHA is broadly revising the requirements in both construction and shipyard industries relating to dermal contact to materials containing beryllium in trace quantities.  In this NPRM, “OSHA is now proposing to remove provisions triggered by dermal contact or beryllium contamination entirely.”

In the NPRM, OSHA explains in detail the agency’s rationale for the proposed revisions. A summary of some of the proposed revisions to the final standards for construction and shipyards is outlined below.

Written Exposure Control Plan

  • Require the written exposure control plan to list of operations and job titles reasonably expected to involve exposure to beryllium (which would include abrasive blasting and welding operations where exposures at or above the action level are reasonably foreseeable).
  • Revoke the requirement for additional lists of operations and job titles involving exposure above the action level (AL) and above the permissible exposure level (PEL) or short term exposure level (STEL).
  • Revoke the requirement that the exposure control plan to include procedures for minimizing cross-contamination.
  • For construction, require employers to establish procedures for restricted access work areas where exposures to beryllium could reasonably exceed the PEL or STEL, such procedures would be implemented by a competent person.
  • For shipyards, require employers to establish regulated areas requiring employers to designate areas where beryllium exposures could exceed the PEL or STEL and limit access to authorized employees.
  • Require both industries to establish procedures in the written exposure control plan to ensure the integrity of each containment (such as tarps).
  • Revoke the requirement for written plans to contain procedures for removing, laundering, storing, cleaning, repairing, and disposing of beryllium contaminated personal protective clothing and equipment.

Engineering Controls and Work Practice Controls

  • Revoke the requirement to implement engineering controls and work practices where exposures are or can reasonably be expected to meet or exceed the action level (AL).
  • Retain, without revision, the requirement that prohibits rotation of employees to different jobs in order to achieve compliance with the PEL.

Respiratory Protection

  • Revoke the requirement for use of respiratory protection during emergencies.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Revoke the requirement to provide and ensure the use of PPE when there is reasonable expected dermal contact with beryllium.
  • Revoke the requirement that PPE be removed when it becomes visibly contaminated with beryllium.
  • Modify existing language to ensure that PPE is not removed in a manner that disperses beryllium in the air.

Hygiene Areas and Practices

  • Remove paragraph (i) completely from construction and shipyard standards because other existing standards provide many of the same protections.

Housekeeping

  • Remove paragraph (j)(1)(general requirements for housekeeping) from construction and shipyard standards, which requires employers to follow the written exposure control plan when cleaning beryllium-contaminated areas.
  • Permitting the use of compressed air for cleaning without a ventilation system in circumstances where there is a limited quantity of dust.

These proposed changes to the construction and shipyard final standards are intended to “appropriately tailor the requirements… to the particular exposures in these industries…; aid compliance and enforcement across the beryllium standards by avoiding inconsistency…; and to clarify certain requirements with respect to materials containing only trace amounts of beryllium.”  OSHA is accepting comments until November 7, 2019.