Exposures to benzene are addressed in specific standards for general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry. This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards). Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
- 1910 Subpart I, Personal protective equipment
- 1910.134, Respiratory protection. The amended respiratory protection standard added requirements for Assigned Protection Factors. This has resulted in amendments to the Benzene standard at 29 CFR 1910.1028(g)(2)(i) and 29 CFR 1910.1028(g)(3)(i).
- 1910 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances [related topic page]
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
- 1915 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- Standard on Benzene; Extension of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Approval of Information Collection (Paperwork) Requirements. Notice 74:39978-39979, (2009, August 10).
- Search all available Federal Registers.
- 29 CFR Part 1915, Subpart B, Confined and Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres in Shipyard Employment. CPL 02-01-051, (2011, May 20).
- Search all available directives.
- Correct manner to interpret air sample measurements of an employee's asbestos exposure when the samples are overloaded. (2006, January 17).
- Respirator selection requirements prescribed in the OSHA standard on benzene exposure. (1994, January 10).
- Benzene Standard - Clarification of scope pertaining to Gasoline operations. (1989, December 26).
- Respiratory Protection Tables. (1989, December 18).
- Monitoring employee exposures to airborne benzene. (1989, November 13).
- Interpretation of Blood Test Parameters Under the Benzene Standard. (1989, July 20).
- Clarification on respirator use relating to the benzene standard. (1989, April 6).
- Applicability of the Benzene Standard and respirator requirements for bulk gasoline storage facilities. (1988, May 23).
- Application of PEL for benzene to extended workshifts. (1988, March 22).
- Medical Surveillance requirements of the Benzene Standard. (1988, March 14).
- Search all available standard interpretations.
Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing hazards and the health effects associated with benzene in the workplace.
- Benzene. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (1994, May). Provides an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) document that includes acute toxicity data for benzene.
- Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Benzene. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 74-137, (1974, July). Presents information collected by NIOSH to be used in recommending a standard for benzene and includes a discussion of worker exposure, biological effects, evaluation procedures, and possible control measures.
- TOXNET for Benzene. The National Library of Medicine Hazardous Substance Database.
- Report on Carcinogens (RoC). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP). Identifies and discusses agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
- Benzene [155 KB PDF, 3 pages]. NTP classification: Known to be a human carcinogen
- Benzene [155 KB PDF, 3 pages]. NTP classification: Known to be a human carcinogen
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans [217 KB PDF, 3 pages]. World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Classification: Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).
- Toxicological Profile for Benzene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2007, August). Includes links to information on health effects, chemical and physical information, potential for human exposure, and more.
- ToxFAQs for Benzene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2007, August). Answers the most frequently asked health questions about benzene.
- Benzene (CASRN 71-43-2). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Discusses the health effects of benzene.
- Benzene. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lists benzene as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) under the National Emissions Standard Hazardous Air Pollutants section of its Clean Air Act.
- Benzene [604 KB PDF, 6 pages]. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet, (2001, January). Provides a summary source of information of all potential and most severe health hazards that may result from benzene exposure.
- International Chemical Safety Cards: Benzene. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2003, June 5). Summarizes essential health and safety information on benzene.
Individuals employed in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to the highest levels of benzene. These industries include benzene production (petrochemicals, petroleum refining, and coke and coal chemical manufacturing), rubber tire manufacturing, and storage or transport of benzene and petroleum products containing benzene. Other workers who may be exposed to benzene because of their occupations include steel workers, printers, rubber workers, shoe makers, laboratory technicians, firefighters, and gas station employees. The following references provide information about the management of occupational exposures to benzene.
- Chemical Sampling Information. OSHA. Presents, in concise form, data on a large number of chemical substances that may be encountered in industrial hygiene investigations. Basic reference for industrial hygienists engaged in OSHA field activity.
- OSHA Occupational Chemical Database. OSHA maintains this chemical database as a convenient reference for the occupational safety and health community. It compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. This database originally was developed by OSHA in cooperation with EPA.
- Benzene (C6H6) [60 KB PDF, 20 pages]. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Provides medical management guidelines for acute and chronic exposure evaluation of benzene.
OSHA has developed and validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center Laboratory. The following standard methods have been adopted by many laboratories for the analysis of chemical compounds.
- Benzene. Method 1005, (2002, September). Covers active sampling charcoal tubes as well as the passive monitors from SKC 575-002 and 3M 3520 badges.
- Organic Vapors. Method 07, (2000, May). Covers determination of benzene in workplace air. With slight modification, this method is a generalized version of validated NIOSH methodology.
- Benzene. Method 12, (1980, August). Covers the validated sampling and analysis method for the determination of benzene in workplace air.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-154, (2003). NMAM is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed. NMAM also includes chapters on quality assurance, sampling, portable instrumentation, etc.
- Hydrocarbons, Aromatic [39 KB PDF, 134 pages]. Method 1501, (2003, March 15).
- Hydrocarbons, BP 36°-216 °C [127 KB PDF, 8 pages]. Method 1500, (2003, March 15).
- Volatile Organic Compounds (Screening) [93 KB PDF, 8 pages]. Method 2549, (1996, May 15).
- Benzene by Portable GC [20 KB PDF, 4 pages]. Method 3700, (1994, August 15).
Exposure to benzene is controlled by limiting evaporation and preventing splashes and spills. Where exposures may occur, the preferred controls are engineering controls such as the use of hoods, canopies, and proper ventilation coordinated with the use of personal protective equipment. For instances where engineering controls are not feasible, respirators and similar personal protective equipment may be used. The following references provide possible solutions for benzene hazards in the workplace.
- Process Safety Management. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides references that aid in the safe management of hazardous chemicals, including benzene.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Outlines procedures to be used in emergency situations.
- NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149, (2007, September). Provides a physical description, exposure limits, measurement method, personal protection and sanitation, first aid, respirator recommendations, exposure routes, symptoms, target organs, and cancer sites.
- Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) No. 81-123, (1981, January). Contains information on identification, physical and chemical properties, health hazards, exposure limits, exposure sources and control methods, monitoring, personal hygiene, storage, spills and leaks, and personal protective equipment.
- For additional information on general safety and health concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 588 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- NIOSH Contact Information. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). A toll-free technical information service that provides convenient public access to NIOSH and its information resources.
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