The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wants to implement new rules on workplace beryllium exposure. According to OSHA, its rule might prevent 92 deaths caused by long-term exposure each year. OSHA’s new rule will be published in January.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than 134,000 U.S. workers are exposed to beryllium each year. Beryllium is a metallic element used in general industries. Exposure occurs when workers breathe in beryllium dust or fumes. Workers in the aerospace, automotive, construction and electronics industries may be at higher risk for being exposed to this substance. Overexposure can cause chronic beryllium disease (CBE).
Workers who develop this illness may experience weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and fever. Long-term beryllium exposure can also cause workers to develop granulomas, masses caused by cell accumulation. Beryllium is also a Class A carcinogen that has been linked to lung cancer.
CBE can make it difficult for workers to return to their occupations. There is no treatment for this health condition, but symptoms can be managed. Inflammation is a common symptom, but it can be managed with corticosteroids.
Can Businesses Prevent Beryllium Exposure?
The best way to prevent CBE is to avoid exposure. Businesses must take the initiative and help workers avoid exposure to this substance. Workers should be given respirators, face masks and other protective equipment. Workplaces should have adequate ventilation. Businesses may also have opportunities to use similar substances that are less harmful.
Workers who develop CBE may have options to receive workers compensation or other benefits. The Ohio workers compensation attorneys
at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC can help workers with occupational diseases discover available options.