Health Hazards of Beryllium-April 2017

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

April 2017

IN THIS ISSUE: Health Hazards of Beryllium

OSHA recently issued a final rule to prevent chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer in workers by limiting their exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The rule contains standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards. The majority of workers affected by this rule are exposed in general industry operations such as beryllium metal and ceramic production, non-ferrous foundries, and fabrication of beryllium alloy products. Employees in construction and shipyards may also be exposed during abrasive blasting operations.

The health effects of exposure to beryllium include:

  • Chronic beryllium disease with symptoms of fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, fever or night sweats
  • Acute beryllium disease with symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia caused by very high exposures
  • Lung and other cancer
  • Skin disease

The new standard reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) to 0.2 micrograms per meter of air (ug/m3) over an eight-hour day and a 15-minute limit of 2.0 ug/m3. Personal air monitoring of employees exposed to beryllium may be required to make the determination if compliance with the standard is required.

As with most rules, the standard requires the use of engineering controls to bring employee exposure below the new limit. It also requires the use of respiratory protection where these controls are not adequate. Other provisions require limited access to high exposure areas, a written exposure control plan, training, and medical monitoring. For the full standards:

  • 1910.1024 General Industry
  • 1926.1124 Construction
  • 1915.1024 Shipyards

Employers that use beryllium in their processes must comply with this new rule. It replaces a 40-year-old PEL that was outdated, did not adequately protect worker health, and did not have a dedicated standard that outlined requirements needed to protect workers. The effective date of the rule has been delayed until May 20, 2017, and employers do not need to be in compliance until March 20, 2018.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at  OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety Services, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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