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March 10, 2017

Beryllium: what is it? Does it endanger me if I work around it?



I know, hearing the word probably places you right back in high school chemistry class, begrudgingly memorizing the periodic table of elements. That class came in handy because Beryllium is actually very prevalent in industrial operations, and whether you know it or not you’ve likely been in contact with it at one point or another. In fact, “OSHA estimates that approximately 62,000 workers are potentially exposed to it in approximately 7,300 establishments in the United States. While the highest exposures occur in the workplace, family members of workers who work with beryllium also have potential exposure from contaminated work clothing and vehicles.”

What is it?

OSHA defines Beryllium as a “lightweight but extremely strong metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunications, medical, and defense industries. Beryllium-copper alloys are widely used because of their electrical and thermal conductivity, hardness, and good corrosion resistance. Beryllium oxide is used to make ceramics for electronics and other electrical equipment because of its heat conductivity, high strength and hardness, and good electrical insulation.”



In summary, OSHA says you can find it in these industries:

Does it endanger me if I work around it?

Honestly yeah, it does. OSHA stresses that when working with Beryllium or Beryllium compounds, you are at risk for:

So, what does all of this mean? Well, since we can rely OSHA to keep workers safe and to educate them about the dangers of their occupation while also making sure company’s don’t cut corners or skimp on their worker’s safety, OSHA has mandated a new standard to help keep you safe should you come into contact with it in your occupation. Here’s what has to be done in order to comply with the new standard:

Bottom Line- This is a pretty common compound that many workers are exposed too, and it’s your employer’s duty to make sure you are safe in doing so. If you’re an employer, stay compliant with the new standard to keep your employees and their families safe and healthy.

To learn more, visit Or, feel free to print out or email this OSHA handout to educate your workplace.

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