USW Praises House Action on Beryllium Protections

CONTACT: Mike Wright, (412) 370-0105, mwright@usw.org

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard today praised the U. S. House of Representatives and its Democratic leadership for passing an appropriations rider protecting workers in shipyards and construction from the ravages of beryllium.

In 2017, OSHA released a new standard for beryllium, a highly toxic metal found in some abrasive blasting compounds and in certain high-tech materials, setting a lower exposure limit and including ancillary provisions for workplace monitoring, medical surveillance, and other protective measures. 

The incoming administration let the standard remain for most workers but attempted to cancel the ancillary provisions for workers in shipyards and construction.

This process can only be done through new rulemaking, and the rider, authored by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, forbids OSHA to complete that rulemaking, a first step in restoring the provisions.

To become effective, the measure must also pass the Senate.

“OSHA’s action never made sense,” said Gerard. “How can the agency justify protecting one group of workers, and stripping those protections from another? Our thanks to Chairman Scott and the House of Representatives for recognizing this injustice and moving to correct it. We call upon the Senate to do likewise.” 

 

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

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