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Beryllium Standard Finalized

OSHA has finalized a rule with new beryllium standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards.

Beryllium containing materials are safe in their solid form but pose a risk to certain persons when-ever a dust or particulate is formed. Thus, various processing methods used by scrap recyclers—or their consumers—such as crushing, shredding, grinding, shot-blasting, welding, sparking, melting, or casting beryllium products can produce potentially hazardous particulates.

Recycling operations that deal with beryllium containing scrap should begin monitoring workers that have the potential to be exposed to beryllium in the recycling process to determine if they are covered by the OSHA beryllium standards. If facilities cannot provide their own monitoring they should contact a third party industrial hygienist to assist them.

 

Beryllium can be found in consumer electronics and telecommunications applications such as cable and high-definition televisions, electrical contacts and connectors in cell phones and computers, computer chip heat sinks, underwater fiber optic cables, sockets, thermostats and bellows. Other beryllium and beryllium aluminum alloy products that you will find include tools,  golf clubs, battery terminals, hacksaws, pipes, tubing, and extension springs.

 

Beryllium is a highly toxic metal and workers who inhale beryllium are at an increased risk of developing chronic beryllium disease (CBD) or lung cancer. The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The rule requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.

 

The final rule takes effect March 10, 2017. All sectors have one year to comply with most of the requirements, two years to provide any required change rooms and showers, and three years to implement engineering controls.

Please visit ISRI's Regulatory Update webpage for more information about the rule, frequently asked questions, and compliance assistance resources or contact Terry Cirone.

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