Risk assessment of tasks involving styrene

Project No. BGIA 3105


completed 02/2009


Substantial quantities of styrene are released into the indoor atmosphere during the manufacture of polymer products from this material. The evaporation loss may amount to several kilogrammes per shift and workplace, frequently resulting in the workplace limit value of 86 mg/m³ being exceeded. In addition, businesses are required to limit styrene emissions into the outside air, in order for them to observe the threshold limits for odour imposed by the German Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA Luft). Waste gas combustion plants or similar may be employed for this purpose. In order to keep the costs of waste gas combustion low, the exhaust volumes are reduced as far as possible. This leads to an increase in the concentration within the working area, and thus to a conflict with the objectives of occupational safety and health. In order for the exposure to be reduced to the technically feasible level, improvements are required both in the working area (for minimization of diffuse emissions) and in the collection equipment. The problems referred to above can be resolved only within an overall concept.

The objective of this project was to develop practical recommendations for risk assessment and for suitable concepts for protective measures geared above all to the needs of smaller and medium-sized enterprises.


Based upon the existing knowledge of the BGs and that gained in the field, recommendations were developed for risk assessment and for concepts for protective measures which consider the working area integrally, taking account of the current statutory guidelines. The recommendations for risk assessment and the concepts for protective measures are designed to provide practical solutions for reduction of the styrene emissions in working areas, even for smaller and medium-sized enterprises.


Styrene emissions in working areas can be reduced only by an integral concept which not only involves improvements to the collection equipment, but also extends to changes in the working environment (such as the avoidance of diffuse emissions). The recommendations for risk assessment and the concepts for protective measures which have been drawn up have been incorporated into the revision of the BGI 613 code of practice governing styrene and compounds containing styrene, publication of which is currently being prepared by the BG for the chemical industry.

Last Update:

8 Oct 2009


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • BGIA - Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung
  • Berufsgenossenschaft der chemischen Industrie
  • Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft
  • Vereinigung der Metall-Berufsgenossenschaften
  • Berufsgenossenschaft der keramischen und Glas-Industrie

plastics and rubber products

Type of hazard:

Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren, Gestaltung von Arbeit und Technik


Technische Schutzmaßnahmen (Expositionsminderung/ Sicherheitseinrichtungen), Gefährdungsbeurteilung, Klein- und Mittelbetriebe

Description, key words:

styrene emissions, collection, waste gas cleaning, fire and explosion protection, environmental protection, protective measures concept