Occupational Exposure Banding: Overview


Worker in hazmat suit.

Occupational exposure banding, also known as hazard banding, is a process intended to quickly and accurately assign chemicals into specific categories (bands), which correspond to a range of exposure concentrations designed to protect worker health. These bands are assigned based on a chemical’s toxicological potency and the adverse health effects associated with exposure to the chemical [ McKernan et al. 2016 ]. The output of this process is an occupational exposure band (OEB). Occupational exposure banding has been used by the pharmaceutical sector and by some major chemical companies over the past several decades to establish exposure control limits or ranges for new or existing chemicals that do not have formal Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs)external icon [ Naumann et al. 1996 ].The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) process can be used to apply occupational exposure banding to a broader spectrum of chemicals used in occupational settings. The NIOSH occupational exposure banding process utilizes available, but often limited, toxicological data to determine a potential range of chemical exposure levels that can be used as targets for exposure controls to reduce risk among workers [McKernan and Seaton 2014]. Through multiple phases of evaluation of the occupational exposure banding process, NIOSH has ensured the accuracy and reliability of the OEBs.

Occupational Exposure Banding: A Conversation with Lauralynn Taylor McKernan, ScD CIH

Page last reviewed: March 15, 2017