What is Control Banding?

August 29, 2019

What Is Control Banding?

Control banding (CB) is a validated risk assessment method, most commonly used to evaluate chemicals. CB has a 20-year history, starting with pharmaceuticals and continuing into nanotechnology and ergonomics. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has acknowledged that Control Banding can be a useful tool for small businesses. In the absence of exposure limits or contaminant measurements, control banding offers a way to assess risk and determine relevant control measures to reduce exposures in workplaces. Control measures are organized into a range or “band” (i.e. general ventilation, local exhaust ventilation, containment, and seek expert advice).  The controls necessary for the task are based on the type of hazard (i.e. eye irritant, corrosive, carcinogen,) and the exposure profile (small, medium, or large quantity, as well as volatility and dustiness).

What Is The Purpose of Control Banding?

The intent of control banding is to provide a simple method for small and medium-sized workplaces that may have limited expertise in chemical workplace health and safety to understand the hazards of the chemicals they work with and easily apply controls to manage the hazard.

Control banding is often used to determine control measures when Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are not known. 

How Does Control Banding Quantify Risk?

Control banding is based on the concept that there are many chemicals workers can be exposed to, but only a few approaches exist to control hazards and protect workers. The method of control banding quantifies the risk based on the following factors:  

  • How toxic the product is
  • How easy it is for the product to enter the body (volatility and dustiness)
  • The type of work being done
  • How long the person is exposed
  • The amount of product being used

A product with a greater health hazard and higher exposure potential will require a higher level of control than a product with a low health hazard that is unlikely to come in contact with or enter a worker's body.

Field Level Hazard Assessments often don’t consider chronic and acute health risks but combining SDSs (available at each worksite) with Control Banding tools will enable field staff to understand these hazards and generally identify potential control approaches associated with the risk levels. Field staff plays an essential part in determining and implementing realistic and specific controls.  

How Many Control Banding Methods Are There?   

A few models have been developed but the most available is the UK Health Executive’s COSHH Essentials for Small Business control banding method. COSHH offers two types of information, industry-specific 'direct advice sheets' and 'generic control guidance sheets'. There is also a COSHH e-tool where you will be prompted by questions to enter some basic information about the substance you are using, before being directed to the most appropriate generic control guidance sheet for you.  

Exposure Monitoring Is Still Required

Control Banding provides valuable advice, but it is not a complete replacement for experts in occupational safety and health nor does it eliminate the need to perform exposure monitoring. The control banding results may need to be reviewed by a health and safety professional to make sure that the control strategy is appropriate, adequately designed, properly installed, and maintained to keep worker exposure within acceptable limits. Periodic monitoring is also required to check that the control methods are working properly.

Control Banding Made Easier with Chemscape’s CHAMP Program

Control Banding is easier today with the increased adoption of GHS (Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals). Chemicals are classified systematically, and associated Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) have a standardized format. This system allows chemical products to be objectively compared and used by technology like Chemscape’s Chemical Hazard Assessment Management Program (CHAMP). This technology provides a consistent hazard and risk assessment and removes the bias involved in the traditional risk assessment process. To learn more about our chemical management solutions, get in touch with the experts at Chemscape Safety Technologies today.