Delays continue in process to update OSHA's beryllium rule
Consumer-advocacy group Public Citizen is pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to publish a rule to limit the exposure of construction workers to the metal beryllium, which has been blamed for a fatal lung disorder.
More than a decade in the making, an update to the existing rule has been delayed numerous times. The latest holdup is by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, which is five months past its deadline for reviewing an OSHA proposal to strengthen rules on beryllium exposure, according to the International Business Times.
OSHA’s existing rule allows for a beryllium exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter, which Public Citizen has said is based on research from the 1940s. That amount of exposure is four times higher than what is allowed in China, “a country not known for especially strict workplace-safety rules,” The Times noted.
An estimated 134,000 construction workers and employees of the aerospace, ceramics and electronics industries are exposed to beryllium, which can sicken those who inhale it in its dust form once the metal is ground up, according to OSHA. Up to 3% of all exposed workers contract the disease, the U.S. Department of Energy reported.