Set the Bar Low | Benzene Danger in the Workplace

Benzene is a widely used chemical in the United States. At room temperature, benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid. It’s highly flammable and has a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly and the vapors may sink to low-lying spaces.

Benzene is found in gasoline and other fuels and is a component of coal and petroleum products. Benzene is also often used to manufacture plastics, rubbers, dyes, detergents, lubricants, pesticides, drugs, other chemicals, and more. Those who work in industries where benzene is used or made, and those who work at hazardous waste sites or gas stations, may unknowingly be exposed to benzene on the job. Benzene exposure can occur through direct contact, breathing it in, or it can be ingested in food or beverages.

Workers may be unaware of the dangers they face from benzene exposure in the workplace. Benzene causes cells in the body to not work correctly. Even short-term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause very serious health effects, such as dizziness, confusion, irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness, or death. Long-term benzene exposure can also impact the immune system, bone marrow and blood production, and can cause leukemia or other cancers.

OSHA regulates levels of benzene in the workplace. NIOSH also recommends that workers who are likely to be exposed to certain levels of benzene wear special breathing equipment. If you work in an industry that uses benzene, visit NIOSH’s Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace page to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

If benzene is present in your work area, employers are required to train employees and provide information at the time of initial assignment. Where benzene concentrations are above the action level, annual training and information is required. For more information on employee training, see our 100% Online Benzene Awareness course.

Date Posted: 06-12-2020
Tags: benzene awareness training, benzene in the workplace, osha safety topics, osha safety training, osha workplace safety, workplace hazards,
Categories: OSHA Safety,