Benzene Awareness

1. Purpose

a) The purpose of the ESCO Group Benzene Awareness program is to define safe work practices administrative procedures, and inform personnel of the dangers of benzene. 

2. Scope 

a) The program shall cover all personnel who may be exposed to benzene while performing their job task. This program shall be available on the job site and be made available to all affected employees and/or their designated representatives at any time.
b) When the ESCO Group is performing work on a customer’s site where benzene is present they will follow the customer’s benzene program or whichever is more stringent. When performing work on a customer site the site contingency/emergency plans must be reviewed so that all employees know what actions to take when there is a benzene emergency or incident. Locations where benzene may be present include but are not limited to petroleum refining sites and chemical manufacturing sites that may produce polymers, plastics and nylon. 

3. Introduction 

a) Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is produced by the burning of natural products. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a pleasant sweet odor. The odor of benzene does not provide adequate warning of its hazard. Benzene is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum. Benzene is a flammable liquid and its vapors can form an explosive mixture. All ignition sources must be controlled where benzene is used, handled and stored. In areas where benzene vapors or liquids are present these areas shall be considered hazardous locations. Benzene vapors are heavier than air thus making the vapors travel along the ground and may be ignited by open flames or sparks. The area where benzene is used or stored shall be marked as a NO SMOKING area. Fire extinguishers shall be readily available and easily accessible in areas where benzene is used and stored. 

4. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

a) Eye and face protection- A face shield and splash-proof goggles shall be worn if there is possibility that liquid benzene could be splashed onto your face or into your eyes. 

b) Protective Clothing- Appropriate protective clothing must be worn to cover any part of your body that could be exposed to liquid benzene such as: boots, aprons, gloves, and sleeves.

c) Respirator- If engineering controls cannot be used or are not feasible, a NIOSH approved respirator with canisters or cartridges must be used. 

5. Health Hazard 

a) Benzene can affect your health if you inhale it, ingest it or if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes. 

b) Acute (short term) -- May cause irritation of eyes, nose and skin, breathlessness, irritability, euphoria, headache, dizziness or nausea. 

c) Chronic (long term) -- May result in blood disorders such as leukemia and anemia. 

6. Emergency and First Aid 

a) Eye and Face Exposure -- If benzene is splashed in your face or eyes, wash immediately with large amounts of water. If irritation persists or vision appears to be affected, seek medical treatment immediately.

b) Skin Exposure -- If benzene is spilled onto your clothes, immediately remove all contaminated clothing and wash the skin with large amounts of water and launder clothing before wearing.

c) Breathing -- If exposed to benzene and a large amount of benzene has been inhaled, move to fresh air immediately. If breathing is compromised, call for medical assistance immediately. If breathing has stopped, begin CPR immediately.

d) Ingestion -- If benzene is swallowed and the person is conscious, do not induce vomiting. Call for medical assistance immediately.

7. Training

a) Prior to starting work on a project where benzene is present, all employees will attend Benzene Awareness training. Training will be held annually thereafter, documented and saved in the training archives. Training shall include the following:

i. Location where benzene is used and stored in the facility

ii. Site contingency/emergency plans 

iii. Review MSDS to obtain information on the selection of PPE, and emergency procedures 

iv. Who to contact in case of an emergency and what actions to take