A Hazard Assessment is the first step in assessing benzene exposure risks:
Determine what tasks might involve opening, handling or being near substances that contain benzene. Identify potential sources of benzene at your site. Determine the relative risk of benzene exposure. Include potential benzene exposure in all pre-job hazard assessments. If you undertake tasks that may lead to benzene exposure, a quantitative assessment may be necessary. Quantitative assessments involve benzene measurements.
There are two different types of benzene measurements:
Area Measurements: these include direct-reading measurement, or air sample collection, conducted in selected areas. These measurements do not represent benzene exposure unless you are in the area throughout a work shift.
Personal Exposure Measurements: this is an exposure monitoring that evaluates your exposure during a work shift or task. You must wear a pump and sorbent tube or sorbent badge to collect these measurements.
Your exposure may vary from other workers or from day to day because of differences in how you do your job, temperatures, site processes, wind speeds and direction.
To protect your health, benzene levels must be controlled. The best way to control benzene exposure is to eliminate it from our worksites. However, benzene is a natural component of the fluids we handle and produce, so elimination is not feasible. Sorry! But we can try not to bring additional products containing benzene (>0.1%) on to the construction work sites (e.g., solvents or corrosion inhibitors whenever possible).
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