A new workplace safety and health topic page published by NIOSH collects resources and information related to the agency’s proposed occupational exposure banding process, which is intended to help occupational health and safety professionals and others make timely, well-informed risk management decisions about chemicals that lack occupational exposure limits. In the March 2016 issue of The Synergist, members of the NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Team describe occupational exposure banding as “a mechanism for quickly and accurately assigning chemicals into categories (‘bands’) on the basis of potency and health outcomes associated with exposure to chemicals.”
NIOSH’s new topic page provides information on the purpose of occupational exposure banding and its approach to the process. The agency also describes the differences between control banding and occupational exposure banding.
“For [occupational exposure bands], the process uses only hazard-based data (e.g., studies on human health effects or toxicology studies) to identify an overall level of hazard potential and associated airborne concentration range for chemicals with similar hazard profiles,” NIOSH’s topic page explains. “In contrast, control banding is a strategy that groups workplace risks into control categories or bands based on combinations of hazard and exposure information.”
NIOSH posted the new topic page in conjunction with the public release of its new draft Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB), The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process: Guidance for the Evaluation of Chemical Hazards, which details the use and application of the process and summarizes efforts NIOSH has taken to evaluate its effectiveness and usability. The agency is seeking feedback on the draft document from individuals including scientists and representatives from various government agencies, industry, labor, and other stakeholders. The new topic page also includes a link to the draft CIB and more information on the comment process.