Scientists discovered beryllium more than 300 years ago though industry did not use the gray metal for mass production until the 1950s. It is in foundries, factories, machine shops – even dentist offices. But inhaling dust from this naturally occurring element can cause an incurable disease which can destroy your quality of life.
Beryllium is lighter than aluminum, stronger than steel and an airborne carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization. Employers who produce this toxic substance must inform employees and the public about harmful contact. Companies that do not follow federal laws and supply proper safety equipment face heavy fines and costly shutdowns.
But the human cost is more devastating.
You or your loved ones could earn disability or death benefits because of harmful working conditions that cause injuries, disease or aggravate a pre-existing condition. Long-term exposure and illness can result in:
- Time off work
- Restricted activity or job transfer
- Hospitalization and medical bills
Beryllium exposure affects about 62,000 employees in 7,300 workplaces across the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Its hazardous dust can trigger a variety of allergic reactions and ailments.
The most common and debilitating is Chronic Beryllium Disease. It damages the lungs, causes inflammation and leads to scarring that can make it harder to breathe and supply the bloodstream with oxygen. Chronic Beryllium Disease has no cure. Its relentless progression can eventually incapacitate victims and reduce their life spans.
Know your options
Unsafe working conditions are a threat to employees and their families. Even if your company properly followed safety protocols, a third party, such as a respiratory manufacturer who made defective safety gear that exposed you to dangerous levels of beryllium, could be liable for damages.
Workers’ compensation laws are complicated. There are many stakeholders, including insurance companies who are not on your side. An experienced attorney can fight to protect your employee rights. To earn compensation for medical bills or lost wages and provide you with some relief.