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Control banding principles used to reduce risks of potentially immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) environments.

Weinrich A; Hoover M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :63
Control Banding is a simplified approach to protecting worker health that uses qualitative exposure assessment to focus resources on exposure controls. It does so by identifying hazard bands relevant to the chemical and exposure conditions and then implementing a series of hazard control practices appropriate for the conditions. Control banding should be especially valuable to small employers and in less developed countries, where resources are limited. Potential exposures to chemicals at IDLH concentrations may occur routinely in areas such as confined spaces or result from unplanned events, such as fires and chemical releases. Incorporation of control banding principles may improve standard hazard control procedures that reduce the likelihood that IDLH environments will occur and limit risks associated with entering environments that may be IDLH. We have proposed a hierarchy of hazard bands for potentially IDLH environments. 1. Fatal 2. Escape-impairing a. Acutely neurotoxic b. Severe eye irritation c. Severe respiratory irritation 3. Irreversible nonlethal effects The following hierarchy of exposure control practices anticipates potential chemical releases that may lead to IDLH environments. 1) Develop emergency action plan 2) Educate workers 3) Substitute less hazardous chemicals 4) Minimize hazardous chemical quantities 5) Dike or enclose process 6) Apply other engineering controls 7) In case of release, employ good OH practices, especially a. Air monitoring, b. Personal protective equipment (PPE), c. Observation and back-up for personnel, and d. Decontamination procedures.Applying control banding principles may help to systematize hazard control practices typically applied by occupational hygiene professionals that offer substantial, if imperfect, worker protection in many situations and environments. Because research has not verified the efficacy of these practices under representative circumstances, expert OH advice should be sought and IDLH values or other, reputable, acute exposure guidance applied, especially when chemicals and exposure conditions may result in the most severe hazard bands.
Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Environmental-factors; Environmental-health; Environmental-hazards; Control-methods; Workers; Worker-health; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Hazards; Health-hazards; Safety-measures
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
NORA Implementation
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division