Benzene exposure surveillance in gas stations’ work environments and production processes: a report on experience from the Cerest/Itaberaba, Bahia, Brazil

Abstract Introduction: benzene is highly harmful to health. Gas stations (GS) can offer a high risk of occupational exposure to this substance. Objective: to describe the experience of Centro de Referência em Saúde do Trabalhador de Itaberaba - Cerest/Itaberaba - (Occupational Health Reference Center of Itaberaba, in Bahia, Brazil) with surveillance of benzene occupational exposure in gas stations (GS). Methods: the actions taken were training of the Cerest/Itaberaba technicians; inspections in 12 GS were carried out in two stages - the first one to verify regulations conformities and the second to verify compliance with the requirements demanded at the first inspection. We analyzed data from Cerest’s training reports and inspection reports. Results: after Cerest intervention, there was a 2.2-fold increase in the number of conformities met by the GS; those which signed agreements with Ministério Público do Trabalho (Ministry of Public Labor Prosecution) showed higher increase than those which did not. Conclusion: the intersectoral experience promoted direct benefits to workers.