Efforts are underway on all continents to provide simple guidance for employers to reduce workplace risks. These qualitative risk management ('Control Banding') toolkits mostly target small businesses and address the following risks: chemicals, including specialized toolkits for specific chemicals, silica, nanoparticles, and allergens causing bakers' asthma; ergonomics, including agricultural ergonomics; safety; psychosocial issues, and sector specific toolkits, including Construction, Health Care Workers and Health Care Wastes. The 4th International Control Banding Workshop (4ICBW) was held during the XVIII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Seoul Korea on July 1, 20081). Presenters described exciting new efforts, the limitations of the systems in place, and research to evaluate some of the control banding approaches. Providing simple guidance for small business owners to enable them to conduct a qualitative risk assessment and to control exposures of workers to chemicals in the workplace is a complementary approach to traditional reliance on implementing engineering controls to comply with existing international occupational exposure limits (OELs) in countries everywhere. An additional impetus comes from the experience of highly developed societies that too many chemicals are still without OELs, and also that small businesses have neither the expertise nor the money to measure exposures and implement appropriate controls. The foundation of control banding approaches for small businesses is the UK Health and Safety Executive system entitled Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials, which enables small businesses in the UK to meet their regulatory obligations. COSHH Essentials (now in a user friendly and free internet version) has instructions how to control worker exposures to chemicals often encountered in workplaces2). This occupational risk assessment and management instrument is intended for use by the small employer without on-site technical experts and expensive exposure measurements (unless the need is identified by the instrument). The International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) recognized the value of this approach and developed for the International Labor Organization (ILO) an internationalized version of the COSHH Essentials intended for use in developing countries, now called the International Chemical Control Toolkit hosted on the ILO website(3). The concept of providing simple guidance for employers to control exposures is persuasive and the approach was adopted in 2002 by the International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS), composed of WHO, ILO and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). An International Technical Group was formed to guide future steps. International control banding workshops to share advances and problems have been held in London (2002), Cincinnati, Ohio (2004), South Africa (2005), and now in Korea (2008).
Control-methods; Control-systems; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Qualitative-analysis; Quality-standards; Small-businesses; Health-hazards; Employee-exposure; Employee-health; Work-environment; Worker-health; Nanotechnology; Respiratory-system-disorders; Ergonomics; Allergens; Silica-dusts; Bronchial-asthma; Agriculture; Agricultural-chemicals; Agricultural-industry; Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-materials; Health-care; Health-care-personnel; Psychological-factors; Sociological-factors