February 3, 2020 / Melissa Seaton

Occupational Exposure Banding: A New Virtual Conference from AIHA University

Exposure to chemicals remains a safety hazard for many workers in a variety of industries. Every day, American workers handle and transport thousands of chemicals—most of which lack an occupational exposure limit. Reducing the risk of harmful health effects for these workers is a challenge that health and safety professionals encounter on a regular basis.

To address this challenge, NIOSH designed the occupational exposure banding methodology, which lays out detailed instructions for assigning chemicals lacking an OEL to one of five occupational exposure bands, or OEBs. The banding assignments reflect the potency of these chemicals and the nature of the health effects associated with exposure. OEBs range from band A (for the least potent chemicals, which have reversible health effects) to band E (for the most potent chemicals with serious or irreversible health effects).

In addition, we have released the Occupational Exposure Banding e-Tool, an online application to calculate OEBs. The e-Tool helps users link toxicological information related to exposure to the chemical they’re evaluating. The application then compares the data to predefined NIOSH criteria before assigning the chemical an OEB. The e-Tool also provides links to publicly available databases and resources to help users with their search.

To ensure the practical application of these efforts, we’re partnering with AIHA to offer an educational, online conference in March 2020 designed to help IH/OEHS professionals responsible for risk management decision-making for unregulated chemicals lacking an established OEL. Facilitated by designers of the NIOSH occupational exposure banding methodology, the AIHA University Occupational Exposure Banding Virtual Conference offers comprehensive occupational exposure banding education from the leading experts of the field in the span of three weeks.

During the first week, you’ll gain a deep understanding of what an occupational exposure band is and how it can be used to manage chemical exposures in the workplace. You’ll also learn how to use the e-Tool to perform occupational exposure banding for NIOSH Tier 1 chemicals through several examples. In the second week, you’ll delve into NIOSH Tier 2 occupational exposure banding and evaluation processes. The final week will feature a dedicated Q&A session while exploring areas for future research and development. Based on your experience level and schedule, you can either register for all sessions or pick a certain week to attend.

If your work deals with protecting workers from occupational exposures, injuries, and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, then this educational experience is for you. By dedicating just a few hours a week, you’ll acquire the required knowledge and skills to better protect worker health.

Register now for the AIHA University Occupational Exposure Banding Virtual Conference.

For more information about occupational exposure banding, read “The NIOSH Decision Logic for OEBs” and “The ‘Bandits’ Speak” in the digital

Melissa Seaton

Lieutenant Melissa Seaton is a certified industrial hygienist at NIOSH and an environmental health officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where her research focuses on mathematical models for workplace exposures.


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