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ABMA Issues Statement on OSHA’s Final Beryllium Rules

The organization says the final rules “impose burdensome costs” that negatively impact the abrasive blasting industry.

The Abrasive Blasting Manufacturers Alliance (ABMA) issued a statement Friday in response to final beryllium rules recently issued by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

The ABMA is disappointed with OSHA’s new Beryllium Rule as it continues to impose burdensome costs on all abrasive blasters without any evidence or scientific data that shows the rule will increase worker safety. Importantly, these burdens reach across the abrasive blasting industry as a whole, as the rule only exempts abrasive media if it contains less than 0.1% beryllium by weight and the employer has objective data that exposure to airborne beryllium will remain below the action level of 0.1 μg/m3 for an eight hour time-weighted average under any foreseeable conditions.

As our independent study from Exponent labs confirms, abrasive materials across the industry, including crushed glass, garnet, Starblast staurolite sand, coal slag, copper slag and aluminum oxide, contain trace amounts of beryllium that would potentially trigger this action level and require compliance with the new rule. 

Additionally, blanket statements from OSHA about specific abrasive materials containing more or less beryllium than other abrasives are irrelevant under this rule and have caused unnecessary confusion in the industry for over three years. Blasters are free to choose the best media based on their needs, rather than switch to a lesser material due to false information and nonscientific posturing.

OSHA released revised final beryllium standards for construction and shipyards on Friday. The final rule amends the following paragraphs in the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards: Definitions, Methods of Compliance, Respiratory Protection, Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment, Housekeeping, Hazard Communication, Medical Surveillance, and Recordkeeping. OSHA has removed the Hygiene Areas and Practices paragraph from the final standards because the necessary protections are provided by existing OSHA standards for sanitation.

The effective date of the revisions in this final rule is Sept. 30, 2020. OSHA began enforcing the new permissible exposure limits in the 2017 beryllium standards for construction and shipyards in May 2018. OSHA will begin enforcing the remaining provisions of the standards on Sept. 30, 2020. The final standard will affect approximately 12,000 workers employed in nearly 2,800 establishments in the construction and shipyard industries. The final standards are estimated to yield $2.5 million in total annualized cost savings to employers.

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