On June 27, 2017, OSHA decided to temporarily exempt construction companies and shipyards from a recently adopted rule covering exposure to the substance beryllium.
Beryllium is a naturally occurring, lightweight metal that is commonly used to make a wide range of products, from airplane parts to computer components and dental equipment. While the metal itself is largely safe, airborne beryllium particles have been found to be dangerous to humans. Prolonged exposure to beryllium particles can lead to chronic beryllium disease (or CBD), which results in scarring and reduced functionality of the lungs. Chronic beryllium disease is estimated to kill 100 people annually.
The rule, which was finalized on January 6th, 2017, decreased the permissible exposure level for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter and required workers to undergo regular medical monitoring.