Steelworkers and beryllium manufacturer partner on draft standard

February 29, 2012

Pittsburgh – The United Steelworkers and beryllium producer Materion Brush recently submitted to OSHA a joint recommendation for a model beryllium standard.

OSHA has been considering action on beryllium for years, as the metal has been linked to a chronic lung disease and cancer. However, the agency’s latest regulatory agenda put developing a new beryllium standard under “long-term actions.”

USW and Mayfield Heights, OH-based Materion Brush recommend lowering the exposure limit by 90 percent and requiring operations that generate beryllium dust or fumes to use “feasible” engineering controls, according to a USW press release. The model standard also addresses a new technique for early detection of lung cancer as part of medical surveillance, earning protection for workers, training and exposure monitoring.

“Given that the recommendation comes from the largest beryllium producer and the union with a large number of exposed members, we hope it can greatly reduce the time necessary to get a new regulation in place,” said Michael Wright, USW Health, Safety and Environment Department director.