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January 2017

OSHA Issues Final Rule for Beryllium – Part III.

PierettiPosted by Luis Pieretti, PhD, CIH, CSP

In prior posts, we covered the new exposure limits for beryllium and the requirements for exposure assessment, work areas, written exposure control plan, engineering controls, respiratory protection and personal protective clothing and equipment.  In our final post of this three-part series, we will cover the information related to medical surveillance, training, recordkeeping and effective dates.  While the Trump administration is delaying this and other OSHA rules 60 days for review, bringing your organization into compliance with all proposed regulations is likely the right path to take at this time. 

Medical Surveillance

A medical surveillance program is required for Employees exposed to beryllium levels above beryllium’s new action level for more than 30 days, those who show signs or symptoms of chronic beryllium disease (CBD) or other beryllium related health effects, employees exposed to beryllium during an emergency, or those workers with a recent written medical opinion that recommends periodic medical surveillance.  The medical surveillance is required within 30 days of determining the need for a medical examination, or at least every two years.  The medical examination should include:

  • A medical and work history with emphasis on beryllium.
  • A physical examination with emphasis on the respiratory system and skin rashes.
  • Pulmonary function tests.
  • A standardized Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test (BeLTP) or equivalent test.
  • A low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan when recommended by the physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) and other tests deemed appropriate by the PLHCP.

Multiple requirements surround the medical surveillance program.  The details of the program, medical exams, medical removal eligibility, and associated employer responsibilities and employee rights can be found within the standard.  Refer to OSHA’s final rule for beryllium for more details should your organization determine that medical surveillance is required.  MEMIC policyholders are welcome to contact their MEMIC Safety Management Consultant.


The employer must provide initial and annual training to affected employees about beryllium health hazards, including CBD signs and symptoms, the written exposure control plan, use and limitations of personal protective equipment, applicable emergency procedures, measures employees can take to protect themselves, purpose and description of the medical surveillance program, the standard content, and record access rights. 


The employer should maintain information about all exposure assessments:

  • Date of each assessment.
  • Task monitored.
  • Sampling and analytical methods used.
  • The number, duration and results of samples obtained.
  • Personal protective equipment used by monitored employees.
  • Name, social security number, and job classification of each employee represented by the monitoring, including which employees were actually monitored.

If objective data was used, the employer must document the data relied upon, the material containing beryllium, the source of the objective data, a description of the process, tasks, or activity in which the objective data were based, and other relevant data. Data related to the medical surveillance and training should also be kept.

Effective Dates (as originally published, now subject to the Trump administration regulatory freeze)

The final rule was to take effect on March 10, 2017.  Employers have one year to comply with most of the requirements, two years to provide any required change rooms and showers, and three years from the effective date to implement engineering controls.             

(The information provided here is a summary.  It should not be interpreted to be the complete text of the OSHA standard.) 


OSHA Issues Final Rule for Beryllium – Part II.

PierettiPosted by Luis Pieretti, PhD, CIH, CSP

This is the second post in a three-part series reviewing OSHA’s final rule for beryllium. In the first part of this series, we covered the exposure assessment, work areas, and written exposure control requirements.  This post covers the respiratory protection and personal protective clothing requirements as well as hygiene practices.

Respiratory Protection

The employer must provide respiratory protection during operations, maintenance activities, and non-routine tasks where engineering controls are not feasible and airborne exposures of beryllium are expected to exceed OSHA’s short term exposure limit (STEL) and/or permissible exposure limit (PEL).  Employers are required to provide a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) instead of a negative pressure respirator where respiratory protection is required by the standard and an employee requests the PAPR, provided the PAPR provides adequate protection.

Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment

The final rule requires use of protective clothing and equipment where employee exposure exceeds, or can reasonably be expected to exceed the PEL or STEL, or where there is a reasonable expectation of dermal contact with beryllium.  The employer must also:

  • Ensure that each employee removes the protective clothing at the end of the work shift or when it becomes visibly contaminated with beryllium (following the procedures specified in the written exposure control plan as outlined in part one of this series).
  • Contaminated clothing or equipment removed from the facility should be transported in labeled sealed bags or other impermeable containers.
  • The employer also must ensure that all reusable clothing and equipment required by the standard is cleaned, laundered, repaired, and replaced as needed.
  • When using other companies to clean or repair the protective clothing or equipment, the employer must inform them in writing about the potential harmful effects of airborne exposure to and dermal contact with beryllium, and the contents should be handled in accordance with the standard.

Hygiene Practices

For each employee working in a beryllium work area, employers must provide:

  • Accessible washing facilities and ensure that employees who have dermal contact with beryllium wash any exposed skin at the end of the activity, process or work shift before eating, drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco, applying cosmetics, or using the toilet.
  • Change rooms should be provided if employees are required to remove their personal clothing.
  • The employer must provide showers where airborne exposure exceeds OSHA’s regulatory limits or where beryllium can reasonably be expected to contaminate employee’s hair or body parts other than hands, face, and neck.
  • Where showers are provided, the employer must ensure that each employee showers at the end of the work shift or work activity.
  • If employees are allowed to consume food or beverage at the worksite where beryllium is present, the employer must ensure that surfaces in eating/drinking areas are free of beryllium and employees should not enter the eating/drinking areas with protective clothing unless the beryllium has been removed from the clothing.


The employer must maintain all surfaces in beryllium work areas as free of beryllium as practicable as stated in the company’s written exposure control plan. HEPA filtered vacuuming or other methods that minimize the likelihood and level of airborne exposure should be used.  Dry sweeping or brushing should not be allowed.  Compressed air should also not be allowed unless it is used in conjunction with a ventilation system designed to capture the particles made airborne by the compressed air.  If dry sweeping, brushing, or compressed air is used, the employee should be protected with a respirator and protective clothing.

Next week, in part three of this series we will cover medical surveillance, training, and effective dates of this final rule.

Click here to view OSHA Issues Final Rule for Beryllium – Part I.

OSHA Issues Final Rule for Beryllium – Part I.

  Pieretti Posted by Luis Pieretti, PhD, CIH, CSP

In January 2017, OSHA issued its final rule for beryllium.  Standards were issued for the general industry (1910.1024), shipyard industry (1915.1024) and the construction industry (1926.1124).  More information on where beryllium is present in the workplace and the previous standard can be found here.  As expected, the new rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 µg/m3 averaged over 8 hours (time weighted average or TWA) and also establishes a short term exposure limit (STEL) of 2 µg/m3.  This is the first of a three part series that addresses the general industry requirements.


Exposure Assessment

The general industry standard requires employers to conduct exposure assessments.  These include (as specified in the standard) initial monitoring to assess short term exposures for each work shift/each job classification and each area where operations are likely to produce airborne exposures above the STEL. Additional monitoring may be required if exposures are above the new STEL and/or PEL.  Monitored employees should be notified of the results.  Where the exposure assessment indicates airborne exposures above the STEL or PEL, the employer must describe in the written notification the correction action taken to reduce airborne exposure to or below the limit exceeded where feasible corrective action exists but had not been implemented when the monitoring was conducted.

Work Areas

The employer must establish and maintain beryllium work areas (areas where employees are or can reasonably be expected to be exposed to airborne beryllium levels above the regulatory limits).  Areas must be identified and access should be limited. All employees entering the regulatory areas must be provided with respiratory protection and personal protective clothing.

Written Exposure Control Plan

Additionally, the employer shall develop a written exposure control plan.  This plan should list the operations and job titles expected to have dermal contact with beryllium, or airborne exposure at or above the STEL or PEL. It should also contain procedures to minimize cross-contamination including transfer of beryllium between surfaces, equipment, clothing, and materials within the beryllium work areas.   A list of engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection should also be included.  Lastly, identifying required personal protective clothing and procedures for removing, laundering, storing, cleaning, repairing and disposing beryllium-contaminated personal protective clothing and equipment, including the respirators is required. 

This plan should be reviewed at least annually or when necessary as stated in the standard.  Reviews are required if:

  • Any changes in production that can reasonably be expected to result in new or additional airborne exposure to beryllium.
  • The employer is notified that an employee is eligible for medical removal, referred for evaluation or shows signs or symptoms associated with airborne exposure to or dermal contact with beryllium.
  • The employer has any reason to believe that new or additional airborne exposure is, or could occur.

Engineering Controls

The employer must ensure that at least one of the following controls is in place for each operation in a beryllium work area that releases airborne beryllium:

  • Material/process substitution.
  • Isolation (full or partial ventilated enclosures).
  • Local exhaust ventilation at the point of operation, material handling and/or transfer.
  • Process controls such as wet methods and automation.

If controls cannot lower the airborne concentrations below the PEL, the employer must implement and maintain engineering and work practices controls to reduce the airborne concentration to the lowest feasible level and supplement these controls with respiratory protection.  The standard also states that rotating employees to different jobs to achieve compliance with the PEL is prohibited.

In our next post, we will cover the requirements for respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene practices and housekeeping.

HazCom’s Consumer Product Exemption

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

The question arises from time to time about the need for acquiring and maintaining safety data sheets for household cleaning products such as Windex and Glass Plus. OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (2012) requires “all employers to provide information to their employees about the hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed.” However, this does not apply to consumer products when “use results in a duration and frequency of exposure which is not greater than the range of exposures that could reasonably be experienced by consumers when used for the purpose intended.”

OSHA clarifies this exemption in a Letter of Interpretation for two scenarios as follows.

Question 1: The employees of my client may create visual aids and presentation displays where they would use commercial art chemical products such as thinners, adhesives, and paints. Could you please clarify whether or not the use of consumer art products by my client's employees would meet the consumer products exemption under 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(6)(ix)?

Answer: The consumer product exemption of the HCS applies to the use of those products only if the employer can demonstrate they are used in the same manner (e.g., with the same frequency and duration of use) as a normal consumer would utilize them. In the scenario you provided, the employees of your client are performing operations related to their normal work requirements. During the execution of these duties they may be utilizing art chemicals such as paints, thinners, and adhesives. If the employees are routinely exposed to these hazardous chemicals, then they would be required to be afforded the chemical hazard information available through MSDS and hazard communication training. It is the responsibility of the employer to determine employee exposure and ascertain if the frequency of use/exposure is indeed not more than that which would be experienced by a normal consumer.

Question 2: Additionally, the offices of my client purchase products such as Windex and Office Cleaner so that their employees may clean their work stations. Would the office cleaning products used by my client's employees come under the consumer products exemption of the HCS?

Answer: You have indicated that these products are provided by your client for their employees to use for the occasional cleaning of work stations and not in situations related to a required work assignment. If your client's employees utilize the office cleaning products you mention (Windex and Office Cleaner) with the frequency and duration as that of a normal consumer, then the use of those cleaning chemicals would fall under the HCS exemption for consumer products, 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(6)(ix).

In this letter, OSHA adds that, “A consumer product that is used in a workplace in such a way that the duration and frequency of use are the same as that of a consumer is not required to be included in an employer's hazard communication program.”  

In summary, it remains the employer’s responsibility to make the assessment of exposure potential for consumer products to determine that the rate of use is not greater than that of normal consumer use.  Should it be determined that employees would likely use chemical products on a routine basis, thus increasing their exposure potential, then information and training must be provided through safety data sheet (SDS) availability and chemical manufacturer's label review. 

Click on this link to a MEMIC Safety Net Blog that describes training resources for the revised HazCom-GHS (2012) standard.


Winter Slip, Trip and Fall Safety Tips

DarnleyPosted by Dave Darnley, MS, CHSP

Slip, trip and fall incidents result in some of the most common workplace injuries.  The risk of falling outdoors increases in the winter as temperatures drop and ice and snow accumulate across a wide swath of the country.  Even though the days are getting longer, we have a lot of cold weather ahead. Consider the following reminders:

  • Plan for the weather by wearing appropriate footwear – even if you’re only going across the parking lot and in to the building, wear a low heel boot or shoe with good tread made for outdoor winter weather. You can carry in high heels or leather soled shoes and put them on when indoors.
  • Consider wearing a pair of ice cleats or other traction enhancement device such as Stabilicers, Yaktrax, ICETrekkers, or Winter-Tuff Ice Traction Spikes. These can be a lifesaver, but use with caution and follow manufacturer’s instructions to include removing before you walk indoors!  Check out various models and features at Top10The Best.   You can also access Pete Koch’s previous post entitled “What’s on Your Feet This Winter?” or Greg LaRochelle’s “A Whoops and a FOOSH: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls.”
  • When walking on ice and snow covered parking lots or walkways take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react appropriately to quick changes in traction.
  • Always use handrails when walking up or down steps. Take your time, and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • Use caution when exiting or entering your vehicle – use the door handles and vehicle itself for support, as needed.
  • Even if parking lots or walkways have been cleared of snow – beware – there still could be “black ice.”  Water can refreeze and create a very slippery layer of ice that can be treacherous.
  • Try not to carry too much when walking in inclement conditions – keep your hands and arms free to help maintain your balance, if needed.
  • Once you get in your building safely, be sure to remove as much of the snow and water from your boots/shoes as possible. If you have dry shoes to change in to, do it as soon as you can safely sit in a chair, out of the way of other pedestrian traffic.

Feel free to share this information with fellow employees via safety postings or “toolbox talks”.  Far too many people will end up slipping and falling this winter.  These are preventable injuries when proper precautions are taken.  Take a look at OSHA’s Winter Weather Preparation page for more tips on various winter hazards and precautions.  Additional information on this and other employee safety topics can also be found within MEMIC’s Safety Director and Video Lending Library


OSHA Webinar - February 9

Westin Posted by Alexis Westin, MS, OHST

Got an OSHA Question? 

It can be hard to keep track of all the recent regulatory changes (like OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard, severe injury reporting program or automatic post-accident drug testing clarification) and what will be coming down the line for 2017. That’s why we’ve asked Sam Knight from SafetyWorks! to join MEMIC for an hour long webinar on February 9, 10:00-11:00am EST. We will be taking questions from MEMIC policyholders live during the webinar or you can email questions, with complete anonymity prior to the webinar, to by February 3.

SafetyWorks! helps create safer workplaces with free confidential safety consultations throughout the state of Maine through the Department of Labor. They are not OSHA, but are knowledgeable in federal OSHA regulations.  There are similar services throughout the country that will complete free safety assessments regarding OSHA compliance. You can find your state’s resources through OSHA's Consultation directory.  Regardless of what state you work in, you’ll find this session beneficial. 

Regulatory changes impact employers everywhere and their employees’ safety. Regulatory experts like Sam Knight at SafetyWorks! can help improve employers’ knowledge of federal regulations and clarify common misunderstandings. We are excited to facilitate this conversation and hope it will spark discussion on many safety topics and answer common questions for a variety of industries. Whether you’re a company of ten employees or a thousand, there should be something to benefit everyone in this webinar. 

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You can register for this webinar, or simply check out our webinar and workshop schedule at