The White House and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are passing new safety regulations that will limit worker exposure to beryllium. Beryllium is a metal used in oil, electronics and aerospace industries. Exposure to the metal under certain conditions can cause significant health problems for workers. When beryllium is ground up into dust, workers can inhale it.
The effects of beryllium vary depending on the length and level of exposure. Immediate exposure can cause acute beryllium disease, which resembles the symptoms of pneumonia. Chronic beryllium disease results from long-term exposure. It can cause fatigue, weakness and a persistent dry cough. Beryllium is also carcinogenic, and may contribute to the development of lung cancer in exposed workers.
How Would New Rules Protect Workers From Beryllium Exposure?
The new rules will reduce OSHA exposure limits for beryllium to one-tenth of what is presently allowed. OSHA statistics show 35,000 American workers face exposure, including many who work in foundries. The United Steelworkers union and Materion Corp., an Ohio-based company and beryllium manufacture, were eager to collaborate on the new exposure limits.
The new rules will set limits on worker access in areas where beryllium exposure is too high. In addition, workers exposed to beryllium dust will be required to undergo medical exams.
Workers who develop chronic beryllium disease might be eligible to receive workers’ compensation or disability benefits. By contacting a workers’ comp attorney, workers affected by beryllium exposure can learn what options are available.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC – Columbus Workers’ Lawyer