THE Be RESPONSIBLE PROGRAM
Voluntary Product Stewardship Program
Beryllium is a naturally occurring element that can be found in the Earth's crust, vegetation and sea water. While contact with beryllium metal is normally safe, those who work with beryllium may come into contact with beryllium particles in the air, which could lead to beryllium sensitisation, or chronic beryllium disease (CBD).
The primary producers of beryllium active in the European market have come together to share best practise in workplace safety, forming an association: the Beryllium Science & Technology Association (BeST). Members of BeST have collaborated to put together this Voluntary Product Stewardship Programme, available in five major European languages, to ensure safe and responsible usage of Beryllium.
Recent studies on beryllium health and safety have added considerable clarity as to what protective methods are reducing the risks associated with occupational exposures to beryllium. These studies have resulted in the development of a Beryllium Worker Protection Model (BWPM) which forms the basis for the Be Responsible Product Stewardship Program as an effective means to providing greater protection to workers. This program allows greater risk reductions to be achieved at lower costs through a proactive voluntary program.
Be Responsible is directed toward the processing and use of beryllium-containing alloys. It is well known that beryllium is a naturally occurring element and as a result, there are exposures in many industries not served by the beryllium industry. BeST does not have expertise in regards to exposures due to naturally occurring beryllium and takes no position on whether this program is appropriate or needed for the many industries having such exposures.
BeST recognizes that substantial uncontrolled workplace exposure to beryllium can present a potential health and safety hazard to employees. This program is intended to minimize any such potential hazard. BeST recognizes that it is prudent to adopt beryllium exposure controls where feasible and necessary, and that compliance with Be Responsible can reduce potential health risks in places of employment and other activities involving beryllium manufacturing or use.
Following the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (BAuA) recommendation to develop stewardship programs to protect workers, the Be Responsible Program was launched by the Beryllium Industry in an effort to advance the science of beryllium health and safety as well as protect beryllium workers, family members and the general public.
Regulatory authorities recognize that Be Responsible is an appropriate vehicle for encouraging the continued reduction of beryllium workplace exposures, at both manufacturing and end-user facilities, and that there are engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment readily known and available to implement the provisions of the program. It is clear to the parties involved with this initiative that innovative, out of the box thinking coupled with the total involvement of the workforce sets the stage for a firm commitment to eliminate CBD.