Beryllium Rule on Standby Until May 20

Note: This post was featured in the Ohio Employment’s Lawyer Blog weekly roundup of March 3.

The effects of President Trump’s freeze on new regulations continue to be felt. Today the U.S. Department of Labor proposed delay application of the beryllium workplace exposure rule until May 20.

The final rule limiting worker exposure to this toxic substance was issued on Jan. 9. But following Trump’s inauguration the effective date was delayed until March 21.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it will use this new delay as an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with the White House memorandum of Jan. 20, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.

In its review process, OSHA has preliminarily determined that it is appropriate to further delay the effective date to May 20, for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy, the announcement said.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. It is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs.

Once in full effect, the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease, OSHA estimates. Workers in foundry and smelting operations, fabricating, machining, grinding beryllium metal and alloys, beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing and dental lab work represent the majority of those at risk.

The proposed extension of the effective date will not affect the compliance dates of the beryllium rule. Comments regarding the additional proposed extension will be accepted through March 13, 2017.

Here’s my previous write-up of the final rule.

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