OSHA Temporarily Delays the Effective Date of the Beryllium Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has temporarily delayed the effective date of its final rule on occupational exposure to Beryllium from March 10, 2017 to March 27, 2017. This 11-day extension will not impact the compliance dates of the Beryllium rule.

The Beryllium rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over 8-hours, and sets a new short-term exposure limit for Beryllium of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period. Upon taking effect, employers will be required to use engineering and work practice controls to:

  • limit worker exposure to Beryllium
  • provide respirators
  • limit worker access to high-exposure areas
  • develop a written exposure control plan, and
  • train workers on Beryllium hazards

The general industry, shipyard, and construction sectors have one year from the original effective date, or until March 12, 2018, to comply with most of the requirements. All sectors have two years, or until March 11, 2019, from the original effective date to provide any required change rooms and showers, and three years, or until March 10, 2020, from the original effective date to implement engineering controls.

This delay in implementation is in accordance with White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus’s, memorandum entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” issued on January 20, 2017. The memorandum instructs executive agencies to withdraw regulations that have been sent to the Office of the Federal Register but not yet published, and to stop submitting regulations for publication. The Presidential directive requires heads of executive agencies temporarily to postpone the effective dates of pending unpublished regulations for 60 days from the date of the memorandum. Executive agencies are also directed to review any pending regulations that have already been finalized but have not yet taken effect.

It should also be noted that regulatory freezes during a change in administration are not unusual. The former administration issued a similar memorandum upon taking office in 2009. This most recent directive, however, appears to be the first step in President Trump’s effort to eliminate two regulations for each one proposed. Meanwhile, as the nation awaits the confirmation of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees, it is unclear how long the temporary freeze will last. These measures, nevertheless, suggest that President Trump seeks to provide some relief to employers concerned about the burden and expense of complying with, what he has characterized as, overly-burdensome regulations.

If you have any questions about the temporary delay, please contact any attorney in Burns White’s Occupational Safety and Health Group.

 

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