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Health Monitoring for Beryllium under WHS Regulations

We prioritise the wellbeing of workers exposed to inorganic lead. Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, stringent measures are in place to ensure the safety and health of individuals engaged in Beryllium risk work.

We work in accordance with state legislation

Discover the Power and Risks of Beryllium

Introduction to Beryllium

Beryllium is a versatile grey metal found in nature, often as a mineral combined with silica or aluminium and silica. It exists in a free metal state or as an ion. Naturally occurring as the silicate bertrandite and aluminosilicate beryl, beryllium has a wide range of applications across various industries.

Industrial Uses of Beryllium

Beryllium metal is invaluable in high-performance and high-tech applications:

  • Space Technology: Structural material
  • Rocket Fuels: Additive
  • Nuclear Reactors: Moderator and reflector
  • Navigational Systems: Essential component
  • Manufacturing:
    • Aircraft disc brakes
    • X-ray transmission windows
    • Missile parts
    • Fuel containers
    • Heat shields
    • Alloys

Health Monitoring and Safety Regulations

Health Monitoring Under WHS Regulations

Monitoring includes:

  • Collecting demographic, medical, and occupational history
  • Recording personal exposure
  • Conducting physical examinations focusing on respiratory and dermatological systems
  • Measuring urinary beryllium levels

Health Monitoring Before Starting Work

  • Discuss potential health effects from beryllium exposure
  • Educate workers on recognising and reporting symptoms
  • Outline the health monitoring program, including test frequency and types

During Exposure to Beryllium

  • Arrange health monitoring for workers exposed or suspected to be exposed to beryllium
  • Conduct periodic medical examinations focusing on the respiratory and dermatological systems

Beryllium Exposure Standards

The workplace exposure standard for beryllium and its compounds is:

  • An eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 0.002 mg/m3

Removal and Return to Work

  • Workers showing symptoms or having high exposure levels should be removed from beryllium-related work
  • They can return to work after being assessed as medically fit by a registered medical practitioner and upon recommendation to the PCBU

Potential Health Effects of Beryllium

Routes of Occupational Exposure

  • Primary Route: Inhalation
  • Other Routes: Minimal absorption through skin and ingestion

Target Organs and Effects

  • Skin: Dermatitis, irritation, sensitisation
  • Respiratory Tract: Irritation, fibrosis, pulmonary edema, chemical pneumonitis, chronic beryllium disease (CBD), sensitisation
  • Eyes: Irritation

Acute and Chronic Effects

  • Acute Effects: Irritation of the nose and throat, cough, shortness of breath, inflammation, pulmonary edema, pneumonitis
  • Chronic Effects: Beryllium sensitisation, CBD, lung cancer


Most beryllium compounds are classified as Category 1B carcinogens under the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), indicating they are presumed to cause cancer in humans.

Occupational Exposure Risks

Working with beryllium can pose significant health risks. Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, beryllium and its compounds are listed as restricted hazardous chemicals and require authorisation from a relevant WHS regulator for use in abrasive blasting at concentrations above 0.1 percent.

Sources of Non-Occupational Exposure

Non-occupational exposure to beryllium primarily comes from:

  • Combustion of fossil fuels
  • Hazardous waste sites
  • Tobacco smoke

Beryllium is also present in consumer products such as computers, mobile phones, and televisions, though direct contact is unlikely.

Source documents