Virginia workers who may have been exposed to beryllium in the workplace should be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has lowered the permissible exposure limits. Beryllium is a toxic metal that is often found in electronics. The rule, which was published on Jan. 9, goes into effect 60 days later.
Workers who are exposed to beryllium potentially face serious health consequences that can include damage to the lungs and other associated diseases. The original limit of exposure was 2.0 micrograms in a single eight-hour period. The OSHA administrator stated that the previous exposure limits were outdated and did not properly protect workers from potential health complications.
Under the finalized rule, workers can only be exposed to a maximum of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium in an eight-hour period. A short-term exposure of 2.0 micrograms of beryllium is also acceptable. While most of the provisions must be complied with when the rule goes into effect, employers have up to one year to add showers and change rooms. Additionally, they have up to three years to implement engineering controls. OSHA believes that the new rules will prevent 94 worker deaths caused by beryllium exposure and 46 new cases from being reported.
If employees are injured on the job due to toxic levels of beryllium, they may suddenly have no way to pay their bills while also incurring expensive medical costs. An attorney may help injured employees file workers' compensation benefits claims to cover their medical bills and even receive a portion of their income so that they can pay their bills. If the employer denies the claim, a lawyer may assist with refiling the claim and providing evidence that shows that the beryllium levels were over OSHA's accepted workplace levels.