OSHA Proposal Could Protect Thousands of Workers from Beryllium Exposure
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds industry and workers of the need to prevent exposure risks to beryllium.
Exposure to beryllium in the work environment can be deadly, so it is critical that workers are protected.
On August 6th, it was announced that the federal government was proposing a new standard that would dramatically lower workplace exposure to beryllium. The proposal would apply to an estimated 35,000 workers covered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“This proposal will save lives and help thousands of workers stay healthy and be more productive on the job,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We’re pleased that industry has been such a strong voice in advocating for a more rigorous standard. The proposal is strong because of unprecedented partnership between manufacturers and the United Steelworkers.”
OSHA’s current eight-hour permissible exposure limit for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. It would also require additional protections, including personal protective equipment (PPE), medical exams, other medical surveillance and training.
Occupational exposure can occur when a worker breathes in beryllium mists, dusts or fumes. Both acute and chronic health problems can occur. The chronic form of the condition, known as Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), may occur from several months to decades after exposure and cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs. The acute disease starts soon after exposure and resembles pneumonia or bronchitis. Beryllium-related granulomas can also develop in other body tissues.
“Exposure to beryllium in the work environment can be deadly, so it is critical that workers are protected,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Certified Industrial Hygienists are uniquely qualified to help prevent worker exposure to this and other respirable hazards due to their training and experience in air sampling, engineering controls, work environments, personal protective equipment, industrial processes and risk analysis. These and other core competencies of the CIH® program can be instrumental in minimizing exposure risks to beryllium and other potential workplace hazards.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.
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