Small Business Panel Submits Report on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium

By Lundegren, Bruce | The Small Business Advocate, February 2008 | Go to article overview

Small Business Panel Submits Report on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium


Lundegren, Bruce, The Small Business Advocate


On January 15 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formally submitted a final Small Business Advocacy Review panel report to OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke on the agency's draft proposed standard on occupational exposure to beryllium. OSHA's draft proposal would lower the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium and mandate new requirements for cleaning and controlling workplace exposure to beryllium.

Beryllium is an extremely heatresistant metal used in highly specialized applications, such as precision instruments, electronics, aerospace, and nuclear power. While unique in its properties, inhalation of beryllium particles can lead to "acute beryllium disease," a sensitization (i.e., allergic reaction) to beryllium. More prolonged exposure can lead to "chronic beryllium disease" and possibly to lung cancer. Advanced stages of these diseases are characterized by scarring of the lung tissue and reduced lung function (similar to asbestosis). Airborne exposures usually result from heating or grinding beryllium, but solid forms do not cause airborne exposures.

The small business review panel was mandated by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996. That law requires that any OSHA rule that is expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses must undergo a review by a government panel with the assistance of small businesses. The panel consists of staff from OSHA, the Office of Advocacy, and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget. …

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