Score One for Worker Safety: Trump Administration Drops Proposed Beryllium Rollback

October 2, 2019 | 1:18 pm
Workers at Newport News shipyard in Virginia install new propellers. Photo: US Navy/Wikimedia
Kathleen Rest
Former Executive Director

HUZZAH! Score one for workers. It appears that the Trump administration has come to its senses and reconsidered its dangerous plan to roll back safety protections for construction and shipyard workers exposed to beryllium. As reported by Reuters and in a bulletin issued last week by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency said it will leave protections for workers in these industries in place.

In my previous post urging public comments, I noted the proposal would have revoked ancillary provisions for the construction and shipyard industries, creating a two-tiered system of protection for workers exposed to beryllium.

Welcome news

Given the Trump administration’s record of sidelining science and rolling back public safeguards, this is an unusual piece of good news. As I’ve written previously (here, here), strengthening protections for workers exposed to beryllium is a no-brainer.

Beryllium is a carcinogen and the cause of chronic beryllium disease—a devastating illness that quite literally saps the breath of those who suffer from it. Not to mention the rock-solid science and decades of work to get to this point, including a painstaking policy process with careful analysis of technological and economic feasibility.

Public vigilance matters

Kudos to all those who submitted public comments in opposition to OSHA’s hare-brained proposal. You clearly made a difference. With continued vigilance and our collective voices, we can let this administration know that we will be watching and speaking out when they attempt to roll back the public safeguards that help keep our nation’s workers, families, communities, and environment healthy and safe.  And we will hold them accountable.