OSHA’s New Enforcement Guidance on Beryllium Dust
On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, OSHA issued new enforcement guidance for inspectors looking into potential cases of workers exposed to beryllium dust. The guidance applies to all types of beryllium inspections, including checks of manufacturers using beryllium as well as shipyards and construction sites where trace amounts of beryllium are found in sand-blasting materials. While the directions are intended for inspectors, the guidance also lets employers and workers know what inspectors will be looking for. The guidance includes instructions for how inspectors should set up air sampling devices to measure airborne beryllium and how to determine if a violation merits the “serious” designation. Beryllium is a metal valued by aerospace and nuclear weapons manufacturers for its light weight and high strength. Workers who are exposed to airborne beryllium particles are at risk of contracting lung disease. Skin contact with beryllium may increase a worker’s sensitivity and likelihood of becoming ill.