Occupational exposure to toxic chemicals is a serious issue, and companies are expected to abide by various regulations to ensure their workers’ are protected in accordance with current requirements and standards. Of course, companies don’t always comply with these rules and regulations, but even those who do may still be putting their employees at risk due to unknown toxicities.
An increase in knowledge about these unknown toxicities in the workplace can sometimes result in establishment of new standards, or modification of old standards. An example of the latter is a federal rule amending the standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium-related compounds which was set to take effect this week. The amended set of standards, however, will now be delayed a couple months due to a set of executive orders issued by President Trump.
The final order that was set to take effect would have set lower permissible exposure limits, established requirements for exposure assessment and medical surveillance, and included methods of controlling employee exposure, respiratory protection, protective clothing and equipment, hazard communication and record-keeping. The rule set different sets of standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards since they involve different circumstances.
The rule was approved in the days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, but executive orders putting a temporary freeze on government hiring and requiring government agencies to cut back on regulations are the reason for the delay. It is possible that the rule will end up not even taking effect, but that remains to be seen.
Those who have been exposed to toxic substances on the job need to understand not only how to obtain compensation to address the health consequences of that exposure, but should also understand how to hold any responsible parties accountable. In cases involving workplace exposure, it may be possible to hold an employer accountable for failing to comply with workplace safety regulations. In some cases, a third party may be held responsible. An experienced environmental law attorney can help determine what options such an individual may have and can zealously advocate for that person’s interests.
Source: EHS Today, “OSHA Delays Beryllium Exposure Rule Effective Date,” Stefanie Valentic, March 1, 2017.