An Overview of OSHA’s Final Beryllium Standard

metal foundry employees working

Used as an alloying agent in the production of beryllium-copper, beryllium is a metal high in strength and hardness, non-magnetic, conductive both electrically and thermally and is extremely stable over a wide temperature range. Because of these characteristics, beryllium is used in a variety of applications (such as the aerospace industry). While this metal is beneficial to many industries, too much beryllium exposure can pose serious long-term health risks.

OSHA has finalized new beryllium standards for general industry, shipyards and construction that provide commonsense, flexible and affordable strategies for employers to protect workers from serious health risks. Beginning December 12th, 2018, OSHA has begun enforcing these standards.

The rule for each beryllium standard includes that employees exposed to either beryllium or beryllium compounds at the PEL (or preceding permissible exposure limit) have a much higher risk of health issues like chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer. Currently, OSHA’s standard reduces the permissible exposure limit for beryllium to .2 mcg/m3 averaged over 8 hours or less than two mcg/m3 over a 15 minute period. Employers will need to use engineering and work practice controls to reduce excessive beryllium from becoming airborne. When beryllium becomes airborne, workers are susceptible to inhaling it.  

Each standard developed by OSHA is based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence, current consensus standards, public outreach efforts and a model standard developed by industry and labor. Though these new beryllium standards cover a smaller worker population, roughly 62,000 workers, it is estimated that this new standard will save the lives of 90 workers and keep roughly 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease from erupting each year. Being aware of the current beryllium standard and equipping your workplace with the proper vacuum/removal tools and safety equipment allows for controlled beryllium levels in your factories. The bottom line, controlling beryllium levels by adhering to OSHA’s new standards protects your employees from long-term health risks.

Industrial Vacuum is dedicated to providing factory workers with the resources and products needed to keep work environments safe for employees. Familiarize yourself with OSHA’s Beryllium Standards and contact us about how we can help!

Join Industrial Vacuum this April at CastExpo 2019

April 27th through the 30th, Industrial Vacuum will be a main exhibitor at the CastExpo 2019 event in Atlanta, Georgia. Mark your calendars and stop by our booth to learn about how our industrial vacuums can protect foundry workers from beryllium and other health treats.