At any given workplace, a number of chemicals may be present. The key is understanding the hazards that each of those chemicals present and taking the proper precautions to protect workers.
A new technical report, The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process for Chemical Management, offers employers a way to categorize those chemicals that do not have occupational exposure limits (OELs). OELs establish a guideline for the levels at which chemicals can cause harm to human health.
With this new framework, a wide variety of workplace settings can classify chemicals without OELs into “bands” based on their toxicity and the negative health effects known to be related to exposure to a particular chemical. This then allows for proper controls to be implemented to limit exposure and protect workers. NIOSH notes that while this banding process can be a useful tool for classifying chemical hazards, the strategy is not meant to replace quantitative OELs.
“NIOSH has devoted significant efforts to develop, assess and validate the occupational exposure banding strategy with the overall goal of reducing safety and health risks for workers,” says NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “In the absence of formalized OELs, the exposure banding process serves to identify workplace hazards and helps employers implement control strategies that keep workers safe on the job.”
Find more information on occupational exposure banding on the NIOSH website.
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