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What is Beryllium? 

Beryllium is a lightweight metal that is used in aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunications, medical, and defense industries.

Health effects associated with the exposure of Beryllium

  • Beryllium Sensitization – Occurs when workers inhale or are exposed to beryllium dust, mist, or fumes. Workers are at risk of developing Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD).
  • Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD) – A serious pulmonary disease that can cause serious debilitation or death.
  • Lung Cancer – Associated with occupational exposure to inhaling beryllium dust, fumes, or mist.

Action Level- A concentration of airborne beryllium of 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air calculated as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).

Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)- The employer must ensure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of beryllium more than 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air calculated over an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).

Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL)- The employer must ensure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of beryllium more than 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a sampling period of 15 minutes.

Beryllium Work Area- Any work area containing a process or operation that can release beryllium where employees are, or can reasonably be expected to be, and can be exposed or come in contact with beryllium.

What does OSHA’s new standard require?

  • Exposure AssessmentThe employer must assess the airborne exposure of each employee who is or may reasonably be expected to be exposed to airborne beryllium in accordance with either the performance option or the scheduled monitoring option of this standard.
  • Beryllium Work Areas and Regulated Areas– The employer must establish and maintain a beryllium work area where employees are, or can reasonably be expected to come in contact with airborne beryllium at levels above the PEL or STEL (TWA). The areas need to be properly marked with signage.
  • Methods of Compliance– The employer must establish, implement, and maintain a written exposure control plan. The employer also needs to establish engineering and work practice controls (addressed in the standard).
  • Respiratory Protection– The employer must provide respiratory protection at no cost to the employee and ensure that each employee uses respiratory protection when required.
  • Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment– The employer must provide and ensure that each employee uses personal protective clothing and equipment when airborne exposure or dermal contact to beryllium exceeds, or can reasonably be expected to exceed, the PEL or STEL.
  • Hygiene Area and Practices– For each employee working in a beryllium work area, employers must provide readily accessible washing facilities.
  • Housekeeping– The employer must maintain all surfaces in beryllium work areas as free as practicable of beryllium and the employer must ensure that all spills and emergency releases of beryllium are cleaned up promptly.
  • Medical Surveillance– Medical surveillance is required for each employee who is or is reasonably expected to be exposed at or above the action level for more than 30 days per year, who shows signs or symptoms of CBD or other beryllium-related health effects, who is exposed to beryllium during an emergency, and whose most recent written medical opinion recommends periodic medical surveillance.
  • Medical Removal– An employee is eligible for medical removal, if the employee works in a job with airborne exposure at or above the action level or the employee provides the employer with a medical report or medical opinion.
  • Communication of Hazards– Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with all requirements of OSHA’s hazard communication standard (1910.1200) for beryllium.
  • Recordkeeping– The employer must maintain records such as air monitoring data, objective data, and medical surveillance information.

OSHA estimates that the final rule will save the lives of 90 workers from beryllium related diseases and hopefully prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year.

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.