OSHA Releases Guidance on Beryllium in the Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently published new resources to help small businesses understand the 2020 final rule for beryllium.
The element beryllium is stronger than steel, yet lighter than aluminum. It’s used in industry as a pure metal and as an alloy. With properties like great strength-to-weight, high melting point, and excellent thermal stability, conductivity, reflectivity, and transparency to X-rays, it’s highly valued in aerospace, telecommunications, information technology, defense, and medical industries.
Workers in jobs where beryllium is present may inhale or touch the substance, which can cause an immune response. This response allows the individual to become sensitized to beryllium. Those who develop sensitization are at risk for chronic beryllium disease (CBD) if they inhale airborne beryllium after becoming sensitized. Therefore, the more a worker is exposed, the more likely he/she is to become ill. OSHA estimates that 62,000 people are potentially exposed in the US.
OSHA’s new resources include:
- Small Entity Compliance Guide for Beryllium in General Industry
- Interim Enforcement Guidance for the 2020 Final Beryllium Standards
- Frequently Asked Question: Beryllium and the OSHA Beryllium Standards
- Beryllium: Worker Information on the BeLPT
- Beryllium Medical Surveillance Information for Workers
- Beryllium: Guidance on Medical Surveillance for Beryllium Workers