Be Responsible Programme

This website gives a summary of the Be Responsible programme that aims to provide guidance on issues related to safety of workers processing beryllium-containing materials who are potentially exposed to airborne beryllium-containing dust, mist or fume.  A detailed version of the Be Responsible programme can be found in English on



Beryllium Science & Technology Association AISBL

Rue Belliard 40

B-1000 Brussels

Tel: +32 (0)2 213 74 20

Email: info @ beryllium . eu



The Beryllium Science and Technology Association (BeST) has developed the "Be Responsible” Beryllium Product Stewardship Programme (“Be” as the chemical symbol of beryllium) that seeks to continuously improve worker safety during the production and processing of beryllium-containing materials.

Be Responsible is an appropriate vehicle for encouraging the continued reduction of beryllium workplace exposures at facilities such as manufacturing, processing, assembly, waste management and recycling, and for promoting engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment readily known and available to implement the provisions of the Programme.  

What is beryllium (Be)?

Beryllium is a naturally occurring element which is extracted from minerals as beryllium metal.  Pure beryllium metal has an unusually high melting-point and is the lightest of all solid, chemically stable elements. Beryllium is one-third lighter than aluminium, yet has six times the specific stiffness of steel. 

What is the most common use of beryllium?

Beryllium’s largest use is as a copper beryllium (CuBe) metal alloy containing 2% or less beryllium. Common CuBe forms processed in manufacturing include rod, bar, tube, plate and strip shapes.  Beryllium-containing alloys are used in electrical and electronic equipment, medical equipment, energy exploration, undersea structures, plastic moulds, pressure switches, aircraft, aerospace, communications, automotive, and heavy equipment manufacturing where reliability and long service life are critical.

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Potential Health Effects from Exposure to Beryllium


The processing of beryllium-containing materials presents a health risk if safe practices are not followed, particularly in processes that generate dust. Inhalation of airborne beryllium can cause a serious lung diseases in some individuals. 

BeST has prepared a Beryllium Safety Bulletin Overview that briefly describes the health hazards associated with exposure to beryllium, the main sources of exposure and the general control measures.

Manufacturers and distributors of beryllium-containing products prepare Safety Data Sheets (SDS), Product Information Sheets (PIS) or Safety Information Sheets (SIS) that provide additional health, safety and environmental guidance that must be read and understood before working with beryllium-containing materials.

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Beryllium Worker Protection Model

The Beryllium Worker Protection Model (BWPM) developed over time is the heart of Be Responsible and is based on eight elements that are to be utilised by management and workers alike.


Keep Beryllium

                                                                       Ø  Out of the Lungs                          Ø  Work Areas Clean

                                                                       Ø  Off the Skin                                  Ø  Off the Clothes

                                                                       Ø  At the Source                               Ø  In the Work Area

                                                                       Ø  On the Plant Site                          Ø  Workers Prepared

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.

General Health and Safety Guide: EN DE ES FR IT

VIDEOS – contains several informational videos on the operational goals (in English only).

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Assessing Workplace Exposure to Beryllium

The amount of beryllium dust or other airborne beryllium particulate released in the processing of a beryllium product determines the extent of exposure control needed to protect workers. To determine the levels of beryllium exposures in a given workplace that are not visible to the eye, the collection of air samples is necessary. An industrial hygienist or other qualified occupational health and safety professional should be used to establish a sampling plan.  

RESOURCES – contains the following useful papers: 

·       Exposure Assessment Guide: EN DE ES FR IT

·       Exposure Assessment Strategies Tool Training Aid

·       Guidance on information requirement and chemical safety assessment; Chapter R.14: Occupational Exposure Assessment (ECHA)

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Controlling Workplace Exposures

Facilities handling beryllium-containing materials in ways which generate particulate are encouraged to use engineering and work practice controls, including personal protective equipment, to control potential worker exposure.  Exposure controls to limit dust emission and dispersion, i.e. to keep beryllium work areas clean and keep beryllium particulate out of the lungs, off the skin, off of clothing, in the work process, in the work area and on the plant site, must be evaluated and implemented as appropriate. 

The primary instruments for exposure reduction are engineering controls.  Local exhaust ventilation, cleaning practices, wet processing if possible are often effective means of controlling the generation of airborne particles.  Still another type of exposure control is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a respirator. 

BeST has developed a Sources of Exposure Tool that characterises risk potential by operation and addresses specific operational concerns. The tool can also be used as a training aid.

RESOURCES – contains the following useful papers:

·       Personal Protective Equipment & Hygiene Guide: EN DE ES FR IT

·       Sources of Exposure & Control Strategies

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Considerations for Specific Operations


BeST has developed safety practices for specific operations as detailed below.

Low Inhalation Concern Operations

CNC Milling and Lathe Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Sawing Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Stamping Operations Guide: EN DE ES FR IT

Likely Inhalation Hazard Operations

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Sanding, Grinding, Buffing & Polishing Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Foundry Melting & Casting Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Heat Treading Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Forging Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT
Welding Exposure Control Guide: EN DE ES FR IT


RESOURCES – contains easy to use brochures on each of these activities. These brochures are available in English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. 

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Medical Surveillance of Workers

Employers should follow the requirements established by the respective member states regarding occupational health surveillance.  However, BeST recommends any worker who exhibits signs or symptoms of exposure to beryllium be evaluated by a physician having expertise in chronic lung diseases.

European countries have nominated focal points for safety and health at work, which are typically the competent national authority.

RESOURCES – contains a list with National Focal Points.

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Uses, Benefits and Critical Applications of Beryllium


Due to its unmatched combination of properties, beryllium and beryllium-containing materials have become important materials for a wide range of commercial and governmental applications.  These materials bring unrivalled benefits to society and is the material of choice in critical application where failure is not an option. Beryllium is a Critical Raw Material to the EU and has been included on the EU’s CRM list since its first publication in 2011.​

RESOURCES – contains the following useful papers:

·       Critical Applications of Beryllium

·       The Benefits that Beryllium Brings to Society

·       Uses of Beryllium

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Beryllium Science & Technology Association AISBL

Rue Belliard 205

B-1040 Brussels

Tel: +32 (0)2 213 74 20

Email: info @ beryllium . eu