The use of beryllium in the workplace exposes a worker to a number of hazards.
Beryllium can be very dangerous, so much so that earlier this year, OSHA issued a final rule to protect workers from beryllium exposure into place. It’s a particularly worrying substance as it is not only the worker exposed to the beryllium that is at risk, but also their family. You can develop a disease even by indirect contact with beryllium. This article discusses some of these risks in detail.
What is Beryllium?
Beryllium is used as an alloying agent in the production of beryllium copper. It has many beneficial properties. It is both strong and lightweight. Beryllium-copper alloys are thermally conductive and resistant to corrosion, so they are used in the production of electrical contacts, springs, and non-sparking tools. It is often used as a structural material for missiles, high-speed aircraft, and satellites.
Who is at Risk of Beryllium Exposure?
Anyone who works in the production of beryllium itself is at risk. People who work in foundries, machine operators and metal fabricators could be at risk. Welders and workers in the smelting or refining industries could also be at risk. Additionally, there is a risk of you work as a dentist, in the medical world, in energy or telecommunications, in ceramics, automotive or aerospace industries, in the manufacture of sporting goods, plastic moldings or in the nuclear industry.
How Does Beryllium Exposure Affect the Body?
Beryllium can have an adverse effect on your body if you touch it, or if you breathe in its dust or fumes. Anyone who works with beryllium can easily take it home with them, on their clothes or in their vehicle. This puts their family and friends at risk too.
Beryllium can cause chronic beryllium disease. This makes you lose weight, it makes you feel very tired and gives you night sweats. It also causes breathing difficulties, feelings of weakness and a cough. It can lead to heart disease and enlargement of the heart. It can take years for the symptoms to show themselves. This disease is not curable, but it can be treated. Failure to seek treatment though, can be fatal.
Although rare, a high level of exposure over a short time can cause acute beryllium disease. This brings on symptoms that are similar to those of pneumonia.
Beryllium is also a carcinogen, meaning that it can also cause cancer, particularly lung cancer. Contact with beryllium can cause rashes and ulcers on the skin. If you have a cut or scratch, contact with beryllium is particularly dangerous.
Contact a St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorney
If you or your family have been affected by beryllium due to exposure in the workplace, it is so important to seek the help of a St Louis workers compensation attorney.
At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we have helped thousands of injured workers in Missouri get the compensation they need and deserve. You should be receiving treatment for ALL of your injuries, not just the ones the insurance company wants to accept. Do not let the carrier deny you benefits. Call us today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form to request a free consultation.