The Beryllium Worker Protection Model developed over time and is the heart of Be Responsible and is based on eight elements that are to be embraced by management and workers alike.
It is obvious that keeping beryllium out of the lungs is of utmost importance. However, it is difficult to reach definitive conclusions regarding the contribution of each of the other model elements toward disease prevention. It is likely that the use of all elements has contributed to and reinforced the success in the others. The comprehensive nature of exposure control rather than quantitative achievement in any one component drives this model.
This model is demonstrating that industrial hygiene concepts developed for the control of general toxins in relatively high concentrations (mg/m3) need significant modification when applied to very low concentrations (< 1 μg/m3) of airborne particles. The application of this model may also prove useful in controlling exposures to other materials with low occupational exposure limits or with materials where health risks are suspected, but yet to be defined (nanoparticles). It is understood that this model is not a one size fits all approach and that end users may need all or only part of this model in their workplace.
The success of this model supports the hypothesis that exceptional beryllium safety performance can be achieved by a combination of operating manager ownership of safety, a disciplined use of the beryllium worker protection model and active worker involvement.
Keep Beryllium Out of the Lungs
The main goal of the Beryllium Worker Protection Model is to Keep Beryllium Out of the Lungs. Keeping beryllium-containing particles out of the lungs will ultimately prevent chronic beryllium disease.
One of the corner stones of the Beryllium Worker Protection Model is Keeping Beryllium Work Areas Clean. The goal is to have work areas clean and shipshape which means areas are visibly clean, well lit, orderly and free of clutter. When work areas are disorganized, cluttered and dirty, it is more difficult to control worker exposure to potentially hazardous materials. Having all surfaces painted and visually attractive will make it easier to determine when surfaces are not visibly clean.
Keeping beryllium off of the skin is highlighted to avoid beryllium-containing particles entering the skin through cuts, abrasions and rashes. Beryllium-containing particles on the skin can also result in inhalation exposure due to hand and arm contact with the face.
Keeping beryllium off of the Clothing is emphasized because beryllium-containing particles and solutions on clothing can be a source of worker exposure and a major path way in which beryllium is carried out of the work area.
Keeping beryllium at the source is the first line of defense in controlling worker exposure. The idea is that if beryllium-containing particles are not produced by the process or are captured and never leave the source, then the particles cannot become airborne to reach the lungs of workers.
Keeping beryllium in the work area is the second line of defense in controlling worker exposure as well as exposure to others. The goal is to make sure beryllium-containing particles and solutions do not spread from beryllium work areas to work and support areas where beryllium work is not performed.
Keeping beryllium on the plant site is the third line of defense in controlling worker exposure as well as exposure to others. When beryllium-containing particles leave the plant site on people and things such as personal items, clothing, laundry, tools, products or equipment, potential exposures to others can result.
Keeping beryllium workers prepared is how the other elements are accomplished. If managers have prepared themselves and their organizations to manage beryllium operations and tasks, and workers know and have the skills to work properly, maintain equipment, recognize breakdowns or upset conditions, and take preventive actions, and are motivated to do so consistently, experience has shown that beryllium exposure can be controlled to desired levels, and CBD can be prevented.
BeST has developed an employer’s guide that concentrates on what is needed for protecting workers. BeST has also developed a training module for workers that provides information that workers need to know to work safely with beryllium containing materials of the worker protection model and what they need to know about protection.