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(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

OSHA schedules public hearing on proposed rule on occupational exposure to beryllium

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a public hearing on the agency's proposed rule to amend its existing exposure limits for occupational exposure in general industry to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The hearing will be held Feb. 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

The proposed rule, published on Aug. 7, 2015, would dramatically lower workplace exposure to beryllium, a widely used material that can cause devastating lung disease. This hearing will provide the public an opportunity to testify or provide evidence on issues raised by the proposal.

The hearing will begin at 2 p.m. ET in Room N-4437 A-D, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC. If necessary, the hearing will continue from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on subsequent days in Washington, D.C.

Individuals who intend to present testimony or question witnesses must submit the full text of their testimony and all documentary evidence by Jan. 29, 2016. Submissions may be sent electronically to www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Additionally, submissions may be mailed or delivered; see the Federal Register notice for details.

Currently, OSHA's eight-hour permissible exposure limit for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. That standard was originally established in 1948 by the Atomic Energy Commission and adopted by OSHA in 1971. OSHA's proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposed rule would also require additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, and training.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.