06/13/2018

Bad Rules Can Cost Money Even Before Being Implemented

Ike Brannon, Forbes.com

Beryllium is not exactly the sexiest of the elements, but I feel compelled to write about it just the same.

While it is relatively rare in the universe and has only a few useful applications, it does happen to be incredibly useful in those applications. For instance, because it is so light (its atomic number is 4) and forms a strong alloy with other metals, it is essential in the construction of satellites and spaceships.

It turns out the the metal is also harmful to humans should they ingest it. For nearly all of us that is not remotely possible, but for some people who work in the industries and occupations that produce or use beryllium, especially those that do abrasive blasting work, exposure can be a concern.

As it happens, workers in such industries also face potential exposure from other possible contaminants as well, a reality that some time ago led to OSHA to require that that companies take multiple steps to protect these workers in some way.

Abrasive blasting is already subject to over two dozen OSHA rules governing worker safety, including preventative measures to avoid undue exposure to airborne chemicals. As a result, illnesses from exposure to beryllium in these industries have been all but nonexistent in the U.S.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration several years considering whether to reduce the already-low exposure standards for beryllium. It had preliminarily decided to exempt abrasive manufacturers, since it did not appear that new regulations would not result in any discernible safety improvements, but its final regulation, issued in the waning days of the Obama Administration, contained no such exemption.

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