The Trump administration is looking to ease an Obama-era rule to reduce workers’ exposure to beryllium, a toxic material that can cause a deadly lung disease.
The Obama rule reduces permissible exposure to beryllium from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour period.
However, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing to exclude the shipyard and construction industries, keeping exposure limits at the previous level.
“OSHA has evidence that exposure in these industries is limited to a few operations and has information suggesting that requiring the ancillary provisions broadly may not improve worker protection and be redundant with overlapping protections in other standards,” the agency said in a news release.
“Accordingly, OSHA is seeking comment on, among other things, whether existing standards covering abrasive blasting in construction, abrasive blasting in shipyards, and welding in shipyards provide adequate protection for workers engaged in these operations.”
The Hill added:
“Beryllium, a lightweight metal used in foundry and smelting operations, machining, beryllium oxide ceramics, composites manufacturing and dental lab work, is coveted for being lighter and stronger than steel, but it can pose serious health risks when it’s crushed to dust and enters the air.
Labor groups had been pushing OSHA to not only extend its protections to cover more workers, but lower the exposure limit even further, to 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air.”