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 proceeding into nanotechnology and ergonomics. 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, volatility and dustiness).
The intent of control banding is to provide a simple method for workplaces who may have limited expertise in chemical workplace health and safety to understand the hazards of the chemicals they work with and easily apply a control to manage the hazard.
The method of control banding quantifies the risk based on the following factors:
- How toxic the product is
- How easy the product is to enter the workers 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 greater health hazard and higher exposure potential will require a higher level of control than a product with low health hazard that is unlikely to come in contact with or enter a worker's body.
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 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 structure. This system allows chemical products to be objectively compared and used by technology like Chemscape’s CHAMP. This technology provides a consistent hazard and risk assessment and removes bias involved in the traditional risk assessment process. Field Level Hazard Assessments often don’t consider chronic and acute health risks but combining SDSs (available at each worksite) with CB tools will enable field staff to understand these hazards and generally identify potential control approaches associated with the risk levels. Field staff play an essential part in determining and implementing realistic and specific controls.