Chapter 296-849, WAC

Effective Date: 06/01/07

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WAC 296-849-130

Rules for Exposure Control Areas

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Your Responsibility

To protect employees from exposure to benzene by using feasible exposure controls and appropriate respirators.


These sections apply when existing or potential employee exposure monitoring results are above either of the following permissible exposure limits (PELs):

  • The 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA8) of 1 part per million (ppm);
  • The 15-minute short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 5 ppm.

Exposure control plan

Exposure controls



WAC 296-849-13005

Exposure control plan


  • This section doesn't apply to the cleaning and repair of barges and tankers that contained benzene.

You must

  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan for exposure control areas that include a schedule for developing and implementing feasible exposure controls to reduce benzene exposure to, or below, the PELs.


  • Respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) help protect employees from exposures, but aren't substitutes for feasible exposure controls.

You must

  • Review and update your exposure control plan as needed, based on the most recent exposure evaluation results.
  • Provide a copy of your exposure control plan to affected employees and their designated representatives when they ask to review or copy it.

WAC 296-849-13020

Exposure controls


Respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) do not substitute for feasible exposure controls.

You must

  • Use feasible exposure controls to reduce exposures, as specified in Table 6.

Table 6
Exposure Control Requirements

If Then

You have operations where employees clean and repair barges or tankers which have contained benzene

Keep all employee exposure concentrations below 10 parts per million (ppm).

You can document that benzene is used for less than 30 days a year in the workplace

Reduce 8-hour employee exposure monitoring results to a time-weighted average of 10 ppm or less.


If employee exposure monitoring results are between 1 and 10 ppm, you are permitted to use respirators or a combination of respirators and feasible controls to protect employees.

Employees are exposed to benzene above a PEL for at least 30 days a year

Reduce 8-hour employee exposure concentrations to the TWA8 of 1 ppm or less;

Reduce 15-minute employee exposure concentrations to the STEL of 5 ppm or less.


WAC 296-849-13045



These requirements are in addition to the requirements found in other chapters:

You must

  • Provide each employee with an appropriate respirator that complies with the requirements of this section, and require that employees use them in circumstances where exposure is above either permissible exposure limit (PEL) for benzene, including any of the following circumstances:
    • – Employees are in an exposure control area
    • – Feasible exposure controls are being put in place
    • – Where you determine that exposure controls aren't feasible
    • – Feasible exposure controls don't reduce exposures to, or below, a PEL
    • Emergencies.
  • Provide employees, for escape, either:

    – Any full-facepiece organic vapor gas mask

    – Any full-facepiece self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)

    – A hood-style SCBA that operates in positive-pressure mode.

  • Use organic vapor cartridges or canisters on powered-air purifying respirators (PAPRs) and negative-pressure air-purifying respirators.
  • Use only chin-style canisters on full-facepiece gas masks.


  • When other contaminants present a hazard, then you will need to use a filter or other combination sorbent cartridge that removes the additional contaminants.

Make sure respirator cartridges or canisters are replaced at the beginning of each work shift, or sooner if their service life has expired.

Make sure canisters on air-purifying respirators have a minimum service life of 4 hours when tested under these conditions:

    • – A benzene concentration of 150 ppm
    • – A temperature of 25°C
    • – A relative humidity of 85%
    • – A flow rate of one of the following:
      • 64 liters per minute (lpm) for nonpowered air-purifying respirators
      • 115 lpm for tight-fitting PAPRs
      • 170 lpm for loose-fitting PAPRs.
  • Provide an employee a respirator with low breathing resistance, such as a PAPR or an air-line respirator when the:
  • – Employee can't use a negative-pressure respirator

    – A licensed health care professional's (LHCP's) written opinion allows this type of respirator

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