Organic Solvents A solvent is a substance that is capable of dissolving or dispersing other substances. An organic solvent is a carbon-based solvent for which the class of compound (type and arrangement of other atoms present) can determine what substances will dissolve in it. Organic Solvents Hazard Overview Solutions Regulations Learn More What are the hazards associated with organic solvents? Because organic solvents are carbon-based, many of them are highly flammable. In addition, several solvents have been determined to be health hazards including, but not limited to, carcinogens (e.g., benzene, formaldehyde), reproductive hazards (e.g., 2-ethoxyethanol, 2-butoxyethanol) and neurotoxins (e.g., n-hexane, chloroform, methylene chloride). Other health hazards associated with the use of organic solvents include dermatitis. What can I do to protect myself? Review the safety data sheet for any organic solvent chosen to become familiar with its physical and health hazards. Use organic solvents only with adequate ventilation and away from any ignition sources. Be sure to use appropriate personal protective equipment, especially gloves, when transferring organic solvents from one container to another. What resources are available to assist employers? Safety and Health Programs An example hazardous chemical program and personal protective equipment hazard assessment can be downloaded and customized to fit an individual workplace. Employers are required to perform a workplace hazard analysis to determine what personal protective equipment is necessary to protect employees from continued exposure to identified hazards. In addition, example programs for hazard communication and chemical hygiene are available for workplaces for which these written compliance programs are required. Training and Outreach Services Presentations on hazard communication, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection and toxic and hazardous substances can be downloaded and modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Further, the following pre-recorded webinars are also available to assist with training; respiratory protection and hazard communication. Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). A-Z Safety and Health Topics The A-Z topics page on 1-bromopropane, dipping and coating, flammable liquids, hazard communication, hierarchy of controls, laboratory safety, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection can provide additional resource information. Consultation Services The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards. Which standards apply? OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to organic solvents in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. General Industry 29 CFR 1910 Subpart H - hazardous materials 29 CFR 1910.94 - ventilation 29 CFR 1910.106 - flammable liquids 29 CFR 1910.107 - spray finishing using flammable and combustible materials 29 CFR 1910.119 - process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals 29 CFR 1910.124 - general requirements for dipping and coating operations 29 CFR 1910.125 - additional requirements for dipping and coating operations that use flammable liquids or liquids with flashpoints greater than 199.4 deg F (93 deg C) 29 CFR 1910.126 - additional requirements for special dipping and coating operations 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I - personal protective equipment 29 CFR 1910.132 - general requirements 29 CFR 1910.133 - eye and face protection 29 CFR 1910.134 - respiratory protection 29 CFR 1910.138 - hand protection 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Z - toxic and hazardous substances 29 CFR 1910.1000 - air contaminants 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1 - limits for air contaminants 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2 29 CFR 1910.1028 - benzene 29 CFR 1910.1052 - methylene chloride 29 CFR 1910.1200 - hazard communication 29 CFR 1910.1450 - occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories Maritime, Shipyard Employment 29 CFR 1915 Subpart C - surface preparation and preservation 29 CFR 1915.32 - toxic cleaning solvents 29 CFR 1915.33 - chemical paint and preservative removers 29 CFR 1915.36 - flammable liquids 29 CFR 1915 Subpart I - personal protective equipment 29 CFR 1915.152 - general requirements 29 CFR 1915.153 - eye and face protection 29 CFR 1915.154 - respiratory protection 29 CFR 1915.157 - hand and body protection 29 CFR 1915 Subpart Z - toxic and hazardous substances 29 CFR 1915.1028 - benzene 29 CFR 1915.1052 - methylene chloride Construction 29 CFR 1926 Subpart D - Authority for 1926 Subpart D 29 CFR 1926.55 - gases, vapors, fumes, dusts and mists 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A - gases, vapors, fumes, dusts and mists 29 CFR 1926.59 - hazard communication 29 CFR 1926.64 - process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E - personal protective and life saving equipment 29 CFR 1926.102 - eye and face protection 29 CFR 1926.103 - respiratory protection 29 CFR 1926 Subpart F - fire protection and prevention 29 CFR 1926.152 - flammable liquids 29 CFR 1926 Subpart Z - toxic and hazardous substances 29 CFR 1926.1128 - benzene 29 CFR 1926.1152 - methylene chloride Other standards associated with employee exposure to organic solvents include: General Industry 29 CFR 1910.120 - hazardous waste operations and emergency response 29 CFR 1910.1020 - access to employee exposure and medical records Construction 29 CFR 1926.65 - hazardous waste operations and emergency response Other Applicable Standards The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite. Where can I learn more? Industry Guides Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Program, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, provides requirements for standards related to organic solvents in construction. Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, includes requirements for standards related to organic solvents in general industry Industry Guide 53 - OSHA Shipyard Employment Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, highlights the requirements of standards related to organic solvents in shipyard employment. Compliance Documents The following compliance directives establish the enforcement policy and provide an explanation of the standards with which they are associated: CPL 02-02-045 - 29 CFR 1910.119, process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals - compliance guidelines and enforcement procedures CPL 02-02-070 - inspection procedures for occupational exposure to methylene chloride CPL 02-02-073 - inspection procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 & 1926.65, paragraph (q): emergency response to hazardous substances releases CPL 02-02-079 - inspection procedures for the hazard communication standard (HCS 2012) CPL 03-00-021 - process safety management (PSM) covered facilities Technical Assistance If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 919-707-7876.