By Brent I. ClarkJames L. CurtisPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis:  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it is pushing back the effective date of parts of the rule limiting workers’ exposure to beryllium until May, while it negotiates with manufacturers and groups that have sued over the rule.

In January 2017, OSHA issued new health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries (the “Beryllium Rule”).  The general industry standard, 29 CFR 1910.1024, had an effective date of March 10, 2017.

Then in June 2017, OSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to revoke the ancillary provisions of the construction and shipyard standards, such as housekeeping and personal protective equipment requirements, but retain the new Beryllium Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 0.2 µg/m3 over an 8-hour TWA and short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 µg/m3 in a 15-minute period.

In response to feedback from stakeholders, the Agency is considering additional technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which would clarify and simplify compliance with requirements.

In a recently-released interpretation memo, Delay of Enforcement of the Beryllium Standards under 29 CFR 1910.1024, 29 CFR 1915.1024, and 29 CFR 1926.1124, OSHA notes that it has been in settlement discussions with parties that filed legal actions challenging the general industry standard.  “In order to provide additional time to conclude those negotiations, we have decided to delay enforcement of the general industry standard by 60 days until May 11, 2018.”

“Furthermore, to ensure employers have adequate notice before OSHA begins enforcing them, as well as in the interest of uniform enforcement and clarity for employers, we have decided to also delay enforcement of the PEL and STEL in the construction and shipyard standards until May 11, 2018.  No other parts of the construction and shipyard beryllium standards will be enforced without additional notice.”

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of Seyfarth’s OSHA Compliance, Enforcement & Litigation Team.