Group pushes OSHA to expand beryllium rule

A pro-regulatory group is pushing the Obama administration to expand and finalize a rule it proposed in August to protect workers from exposure to beryllium, a widely used metal that’s known to cause a deadly lung disease.

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Public Citizen is asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to lower its proposed beryllium exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air and expand the rule to cover workers in the construction and shipyard industries.

“Public Citizen asserts that there is no justifiable reason to exclude from the proposed rule the estimated 23,000 construction and shipyard workers — 40 percent of all workers — exposed to beryllium,” the groups said in comments it submitted to OSHA on Friday.

The group is urging OSHA to finalize the rule as soon as possible before more workers die or are permanently disabled from the high levels of beryllium exposure allowed under the current rule.