Abrasive Blasting Tech Tips

BlastTalk: Myths and facts about Beryllium in abrasives used for blasting

In the USA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has spent more than 40 years trying to reduce workers’ exposure to beryllium in the workplace.  

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in technically advanced industries such as aerospace, defense and medical. OSHA estimates that the final rule will save the lives of 90 workers from beryllium related diseases, and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease once its full effects are realised each year. OSHA’s efforts have been beaten back over the years by industry resistance, technical debates and political stalling. Since 2015, OSHA has proposed formalising a significantly lower limit for exposure to beryllium, and although on May 20 this year, the ruling was formalised, it continues to face strong resistance from various stakeholders in the slag industry.

Workers who inhale beryllium are at a higher risk to develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD) or lung cancer, which is why abrasives and the blast industry are currently included in the ruling. Our aim below is to correct some misinformation perpetrated to prevent the Beryllium Rule being passed:

In many markets, garnet is now the preferred choice of blasting abrasive. It replaces unsafe, less efficient silica sand and slag abrasives.  Garnet is inherently safe, and offers significant performance benefits - it is faster and cleaner.  Once a customer switches from slag to garnet abrasive, they benefit from the increase in safety for their workers, and the satisfaction that they have made a good and responsible commercial decision.

By Pete Mitchell, GMA Americas



1. New York Times,  August 2015, OSHA to propose beryllium limit in the works since 1975.  |  2. OSHA Fact Sheet: Protecting workers from exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds: Final Rule Overview.  | 3. OSHA, Frequently Asked Questions.