How dangerous is Beryllium dust?

Because beryllium has a high toxicity level, not controlling beryllium dust can lead to issues originating in the lungs. Foundry workers inhale this costly chemical when too much beryllium dust resides in the air. As a result, workers are at risk of a common disease: Berylliosis.

Berylliosis, a disorder of the lungs that can eventually lead to other organs, is a respiratory disease caused by beryllium dust that has been fatal in roughly 20% of all cases. In addition to berylliosis, Chronic Beryllium Disease can occur in workers that are allergic to beryllium dust. As a result of Chronic Beryllium Disease (or CBD for short), workers will experience breathing problems, weakness, tiredness, and potentially lead to anorexia and blueness of the hands and feet.

Because of the toll beryllium dust exposure has on the human body, it’s become a high priority for OSHA to give correct safety standards. OSHA has their Beryllium Rule that foundries must follow to meet requirements and protect workers.

Complying with OSHA’s Beryllium Dust Rule

To be compliant with OSHA’s Beryllium standards, foundry managers must complete the following:

Create a written beryllium dust exposure control plan:

1. Establish a written exposure control plan that has:

  • A list of job titles and working duties reasonably expected to involve airborne exposure or skin contact with beryllium, involve airborne exposure at or above the action level and involve airborne exposure above the TWA, PEL, or STEL.
  • Specific rules that lower cross-contamination of beryllium between surfaces, clothing, materials, equipment, and articles within work environments containing beryllium
  • Specific rules for keeping surfaces as free as possible of beryllium
  • Specific rules used for minimizing the spread of beryllium from work areas to other locations within or outside the work environment
  • A list of required work practices, engineering controls, and respiratory protection
  • A list of required personal protective equipment and clothing
  • Specific rules for the removal of laundering, storing, repairing, disposing, and cleaning of beryllium-contaminated protective clothing and equipment

2. Review and Evaluate the effectiveness of the exposure control plan annually and update it as necessary when:

  • Production processes, materials, equipment, people, work practices, or control methods change
  • Notify the employer if an employee is eligible for medical removal due to established standard, referred for evaluation, or shows signs or symptoms of beryllium exposure
  • The employer believes new or added airborne exposure can or is occurring

3. Provide a copy of the written exposure control plan for each employee who is or can reasonably be exposed to airborne beryllium

Engineering and beryllium dust work practice controls

1. Employers must use engineering and work practice controls to cut and maintain employee airborne exposure to beryllium to or below the PEL and STEL. Implementing one of the following, you will cut airborne exposure:

  • Material and/or process substitution
  • Isolation like ventilated partial or full enclosures
  • Local exhaust ventilation
  • Process control like wet methods and automation

2. The employer is exempt from using controls of this standard only if the employer can set up such controls are not possible or can prove that airborne exposure is below the action level

Prohibition of rotation

1. The employer is not allowed to rotate employees to different jobs to achieving compliance with PELs

For full details on beryllium safety and being compliance, visit the beryllium dust exposure compliance guide. Contact us to learn about how an industrial vacuüm can help enhance the safety of your facilities.

Industrial Vacuum is showed at the CastExpo 2019 event in Atlanta, Georgia April 27th-30th. At our booth, we educated employers on how to become beryllium dust compliant.