Beryllium’s Threat to Foundry Workers and Complying with OSHA

Beryllium Control


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 exposure has on the human body, it’s become a high priority for OSHA to provide accurate safety standards. OSHA has their Beryllium Rule that foundries must comply with in order to meet requirements and protect workers.

Complying with OSHA’s Beryllium Rule

In order to be in compliance with OSHA’s Beryllium standards, foundry managers must complete the following:

  1. Create a written beryllium exposure control plan:
    1. Establish a written exposure control plan that contains:
      1. A list of job titles and operational 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.
      2. Specific procedures that minimize cross-contamination of beryllium between surfaces, clothing, materials, equipment and articles within work environments containing beryllium
      3. Specific procedures for keeping surfaces as free as possible of beryllium
      4. Specific procedures used for minimizing the spread of beryllium from work areas to other locations within or outside the work environment
      5. A list of required work practices, engineering controls and respiratory protection
      6. A list of required personal protective equipment and clothing
      7. Specific procedures for the removal of laundering, storing, repairing, disposing and cleaning of beryllium-contaminated protective clothing and equipment
    2. Review and Evaluate effectiveness of exposure control plan annually and update it as necessary when:
      1. Production processes, materials, equipment, personnel, work practices or control methods change
      2. Employer is notified of an employee being eligible for medical removal due to established standard, referred for evaluation or shows signs or symptoms of beryllium exposure
      3. Employer believes new or additional 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 expected to be exposed to airborne beryllium
  2. Engineering and work practice controls
    1. Employer must use engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain employee airborne exposure to beryllium to or below the PEL and STEL
    2. At least one of the following must be in place to reduce airborne exposure:
      1. Material and/or process substitution
      2. Isolation like ventilated partial or full enclosures
      3. Local exhaust ventilation
      4. Process control like wet methods and automation
    3. Employer is exempt from using controls of this standard only if employer can establish such controls are not feasible or can demonstrate that airborne exposure is below the action level
  3. Prohibition of rotation
    1. Employer is not allowed to rotate employees to different jobs with the intention of achieving compliance with PELs

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

Industrial Vacuum is showcasing at the CastExpo 2019 event in Atlanta, Georgia April 27th-30th. Visit us at our booth for further information and instruction on how to become beryllium compliant.