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New Beryllium Standard Enforcement Begins May 2018

WelderBeryllium is an element listed as an Alkali-earth metal and is seen near the top of the periodic table. Its unique physical properties make it highly sought after in many industries. This grey metal is stronger than steel, yet lighter than aluminum.

Additionally, Beryllium boasts a high melting point, reflectivity, excellent thermal stability and conductivity, and transparency to x-rays. These attributes make the material useful seemingly everywhere, from aerospace and nuclear to dental and automotive.

In 2014, the United States produced 270 metric tons of the metal while still importing another 68 metric tons. Unfortunately, exposure to the element in the workplace creates long-term, devastating injuries.

What Are the Risks?

The usefulness of Beryllium comes at a price. Workers exposed to the metal are at risk for Beryllium sensitivity, particularly those who inhale small particles of the element, like ceramic and nuclear machinists. However, other industries that have very little exposure also have incidents of injury.

Sensitivity to Beryllium creates a higher risk of developing lung cancer or Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), a slow-progressing respiratory disease, characterized by lung lesions, known as granulomas, and fibrosis. Over time, the lungs ability to expand becomes impaired, and thus prevents oxygen from getting to the bloodstream. Currently, there is no cure for CBD.

High-Risk Industries

CBD has been found in security guards, secretaries, and bystanders that have little exposure. Hence, those working directly with the material or within the vicinity should take extra precautions.

Industries with an elevated risk of high levels of Beryllium exposure include the following:

  • Aerospace;
  • Automotive;
  • Computers;
  • Construction;
  • Dental labs;
  • Electronics;
  • Ceramic manufacturing;
  • Laboratory workers;
  • Metal recycling;
  • Mining of beryl ore;
  • Nuclear weapons;
  • Precision machinists;
  • Smelting/foundry;
  • Tool manufacturer; and
  • Welding.
New Beryllium Standards

As of May 11, 2018, new protective standards become enforceable, according to OSHA. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must provide a safe and healthy environment for their employees. As of May 11, employers in the construction, general, and shipyard industries must also enforce a new 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) as well as a 15-minute short-term exposure limit (STEL).

Speak with a Compassionate Workplace Injury Attorney in California

If you or a loved one suffer from CBD or another injury due to Beryllium exposure, it is possible that your injury was preventable. The attorneys at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. will examine your case and help you understand your options for receiving the compensation you need to cover your lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. If you would like to discuss your case with a Santa Clara County, CA workplace injury lawyer, contact us today at (408) 289-1417 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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