In a new article from the International Business Times says the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has spent 8 months reviewing a proposal to strengthen rules on beryllium exposure, overshooting its deadline by more than 5 months. It is the latest delay in regulations that have been more than 13 years in the making.
As many as 134,000 workers in the U.S. are currently exposed to beryllium – mostly in the aerospace, ceramics, construction and electronics industries, according to research by NIOSH. When the metal is ground into dust and inhaled, it can cause chronic beryllium disease, a potentially fatal lung disorder. Some people are more sensitive to beryllium than others. As it stands, OSHA’s existing beryllium exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter dates from research conducted in the 1940s.
Keith Wrightson, a workplace-safety expert at Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group pushing for an updated regulation, says his group wants the exposure limit lowered to 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Since the 1970s, NIOSH has backed a limit of 0.5 micrograms per cubic meter.
Once OMB finishes its review, OSHA has to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking and solicit public comments before issuing a final rule, which could take another year. The delay stems from the agency’s compliance with the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act, applicable only to OSHA, EPA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – which requires that the agencies undergo a special consultation process with business representatives before issuing new rules.