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NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:
Control Banding
NIOSH DRAFT Document for Comment
Control Banding Literature Review and Critical Analysis
posted May 14, 2008
Control Banding
Control banding is a process in which a single control technology (such as general ventilation or containment) is
applied to one range or band of exposures to a chemical (such as 1−10 mg/m3) that falls within a given hazard
group (such as skin and eye irritants or severely irritating and corrosive).
Four main control bands have been developed for exposure to chemicals by inhalation
(See Table 1 for more in-depth model):
Band 1: Use good industrial hygiene practice and general ventilation.
Band 2: Use local exhaust ventilation.
Band 3: Enclose the process.
Band 4: Seek expert advice.
For some activities, processes, tasks, or jobs, experts can specify that respiratory protective equipment (in
combination with other control approaches) is always necessary.
The most developed model for control banding has been established by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of
the United Kingdom.
The control banding approach focuses resources on exposure controls and describes how strictly a risk needs to
be managed. This qualitative risk assessment and management tool is intended to help small businesses by
providing an easy-to-understand, practical approach to controlling hazardous exposures at work.
The principle of control banding was first applied to dangerous chemicals, chemical mixtures, and fumes. The
control banding process emphasizes the controls needed to prevent hazardous substances from causing harm to
people at work. The greater the potential for harm, the greater the degree of control needed to manage the
situation and make the risk “acceptable.”
On This Page...
Workshops, Symposia, &
NIOSH Activities
Control banding is a complimentary approach to protecting worker health that focuses resources on exposure
controls and describes how strictly a risk needs to be managed. NIOSH considers control banding a potentially
useful tool for small businesses. Control banding has been evaluated in various settings, particularly in the United
Kingdom. NIOSH is currently evaluating its utility for the United States.
International Control Banding Workshops, Symposia, and Presentations
Hazard Communication and Risk Management for Global Business—GHS, REACH, and Control Banding
(Sept 14-15, 2006)
External Link: http://www.aiha.org/TheAcademy/html/pcih-symposium.htm
Report of the 1st International Control Banding Workshop (November 2002)
External Link: http://www.bohs.org/eventDetails.aspx?event=42
2nd International Control Banding Workshop: Validation and Effectiveness of Control Banding (March 1-2,
External Link: http://www.acgih.org/events/ControlBand/
IOHA 6th International Scientific Conference (September 2005)
External Link: http://www.saioh.org/ioha2005/index.htm
Frequently Asked Questions about Control Banding
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NIOSH Contacts
Other Related NIOSH Topic Pages
Additional Control Banding Links
Selected References
NIOSH Topic: Control Banding | CDC/NIOSH
Why is control banding useful?
What are the control bands for health risks from chemicals?
Does control banding remove the need for consultants?
Where is control banding already in use?
What is COSHH Essentials?
What situations are not appropriate for control banding?
Where did the idea of control banding come from?
What do users of COSHH Essentials think of it?
Does control banding work?
Will control banding for chemical health risks work in the United States?
Where else is control banding being tried?
Can control banding be applied beyond chemicals?
What is the status of control banding in the United States?
The FAQs about Control Banding are also available in printer-friendly PDF form.
Why is control banding useful?
The occupational exposure limit (OEL) is the marker that shows the level of control needed for a chemical.
Repeated daily exposure by inhaling a chemical at an airborne concentration below its OEL is unlikely to lead to
harm in most workers. However, many thousands of chemicals are in use, and it is not possible to have an OEL for
every chemical, chemical mixture, fume, or emission. Nonetheless, it is possible to determine the broad hazard
group to which a chemical belongs (Table 1) and on that basis to determine the necessary level of control, or
control band.
What are the control bands for health risks from chemicals?
The control bands for exposures to chemicals by inhalation are listed in the following table:
Table 1. Control bands for exposures to chemicals by inhalation
Target Range of
Exposure Concentration
Hazard group
>1 to 10 mg/m3 dust
>50 to 500 ppm vapor
Skin and eye irritants
Use good industrial hygiene
practice and general ventilation.
>0.1 to 1 mg/m3 dust
>5 to 50 ppm vapor
Harmful on single
Use local exhaust ventilation.
>0.01 to 0.1 mg/m3 dust
>0.5 to 5 ppm vapor
Severely irritating and
Enclose the process.
<0.01 mg/m3 dust
<0.5 ppm vapor
Very toxic on single
exposure, reproductive
hazard, sensitizer*
Seek expert advice.
*Exposure to any concentration of a sensitizer requires expert advice.
Does control banding remove the need for consultants?
No. Control banding does not replace industrial hygiene expertise. Sometimes the control banding advice directly
guides employers to seek such advice.
Specific operating knowledge and professional judgment are required to implement the best combination of
controls that are “reasonably practicable” and to minimize risks to workers.
Where is control banding already in use?
An international example of control banding concepts in use is the procedure for the transportation of dangerous
chemicals. These chemicals are classified with United Nations (UN) codes that are used for identifying safe
storage rules, permitted types of transport container, and actions to take in an emergency.
Another example of control banding is the implementation of controls and work practices for safe handling of new
drugs and materials in the pharmaceutical industry.
In Europe, a combination of the hazard and the amount of chemical stored are banded, leading to a range of duties
to prepare formal safety assessments. In the United Kingdom, the HSE has developed a scheme for banding the
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control of health risks associated with chemicals. This scheme, or control banding tool, is called COSHH
Essentials. Other European countries are exploring similar schemes and ideas.
What is COSHH Essentials?
COSHH Essentials (http://www.coshh-essentials.org.uk/) is a control banding tool that helps small and mediumsized enterprises to do risk assessments for chemicals and mixtures of chemicals. COSHH stands for control of
substances hazardous to health. This tool requires four pieces of information:
The type of task (e.g. mixing liquids, sack filling, manually cleaning and disinfecting surfaces)
The hazard classification from the material safety data sheet, or MSDS, part 15 (obtained from the
chemical manufacturer or supplier)
The volatility or dustiness of the chemical or product
The amount used in the task (small quantities = grams or milliliters; medium quantities = kilograms or
liters; large quantities = tons or cubic meters)
The system then
identifies the control band (control approach),
produces advice on controlling risk from the chemical used in the specified task, and
provides written guidance and documentation as a result of the assessment.
In British law, the duty to control risk remains with the employer. Both the web and paper versions of the COSHH
Essentials tools are designed to assist the small or medium sized employer meet regulatory requirements.
What situations are not currently appropriate for control banding?
Control banding is not currently appropriate for many situations, including "hot" processes, open spray applications,
gases, and pesticides. These situations involve more complex exposures requiring additional considerations that
are not yet fully addressed by current control banding strategies. In addition, control banding does not yet cover
safety hazards, environmental issues, or ergonomic issues. Researchers are exploring ways to integrate these
additional workplace issues into the control banding concept.
Where did control banding originate?
The concept of control banding was developed in the late 1980s by occupational health experts in the
pharmaceutical industry. This industry uses large numbers of new chemical compounds with few toxicity data. The
experts reasoned that such compounds could be classified into bands by their toxicity and by their need for
restriction of exposure. Each band was aligned with a control scheme.
Early references on the concept included a manual published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical
Industry in October 1995 and a paper by Naumann et al. [1996] (see reference list below).
In the early 1990s, as the European system for classification and labeling developed, occupational health experts
began to examine the alignment between the classification, the exposure limit, and data on exposure and control
systems [Gardner and Oldershaw 1991].
What do users of COSHH Essentials think of it?
In a telephone survey, 500 purchasers of the paper version of COSHH Essentials were interviewed, with the
following results:
79% of the people buying the guidance had used it.
76% of those who had used it took action of some sort (including substitution).
94% would recommend it to other businesses.
Fewer than 5% found it fairly difficult to use.
Does control banding work?
Yes—for the most part, evidence supports the effectiveness of control banding (or COSHH Essentials). The
German authority (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin - BAuA) evaluated the system based on
about 1,000 personal measurements from field studies in 18 industrial applications. They found that for solids
(dusts and powders) and medium-scale use (liter quantities) of liquids, exposures were within the range predicted
by COSHH Essentials or lower. For the use of small quantities (milliliters) of solvent-based products (such as paint
or adhesive), exposures sometimes exceeded the range.
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A study of another control banding tool, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Toolkit, was conducted in the
United States. The study found small safety margins for the hazard bands that included high-potency chemicals.
[Jones and Nicas 2004] For example, high airborne exposures were measured during vapor degreasing operations
even though local exhaust ventilation had been installed. These results underscore the need to follow up new
engineering controls with air monitoring to verify the effectiveness of their installation.
Will control banding for chemical health risks work in the United States?
The philosophy of control banding can work anywhere. However, to apply control banding in the United States in
the form of COSHH Essentials or another approach, some adaptation of the materials will be required along with
review of the legal and regulatory implications. COSHH Essentials is based on risk phrases developed by the
European Union and classification rules for chemicals and chemical mixtures. Additional work is required to convert
the typical toxicological phrases used in American MSDSs to equivalent risk phrases.
Because the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals was recently adopted
by the United Nations, global consistency will be possible in the international classification of chemicals. Such
consistency will enable the development and adoption of control banding schemes. Additional information about
the GHS is available on the OSHA Web site at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardcommunications/global.html.
Where else is control banding being tried?
The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS, comprised of the International Labour Association [ILO],
the World Health Association [WHO], and the United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]) has published the
International Chemical Control Toolkit on the ILO Web site. A useful feature of the Toolkit is the table showing the
correspondence between European risk phrases and the GHS hazard classifications. The IPCS is planning to add
GHS hazard classifications to its more than 1,300 chemical safety cards. Control banding approaches are also
being developed in Belgium (REGETOX project), the Netherlands (Stoffenmanager), and Norway (KjemiRisk). The
World Health Organization is working with its Collaborating Centres to pilot control banding programs in more than
a dozen countries.
Can the control banding concept be applied beyond chemicals?
Efforts are under way to develop control banding approaches for ergonomics, safety hazards, psychosocial factors,
and environmental applications.
What is the status of control banding in the United States?
The 2nd International Control Banding Workshop: Validation and Effectiveness of Control Banding was held March
1−2, 2004, in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the sponsorship of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
Hygienists, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the International Labour Organization, the International
Occupational Health Association, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Safety
Council, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the World Health Organization. Platform and
poster presentations highlighted the progress and future activities regarding control banding in both developed and
developing countries. A national control banding workshop was held March 9−10, 2005, in Washington, DC, to
discuss planning and implementation of control banding strategies in the United States.
These FAQs were adapted from comments initially prepared by Deborah Nelson and Paul Evans, March 2004.
NIOSH Activities
University of Connecticut Control Banding Workshops
The University of Connecticut Health Center, with support from NIOSH, conducted workshops on Control Banding:
A Chemical Risk Management Tool for Health and Safety Committees. The first workshop was held November 16,
2006 with a follow up session on February 1, 2007, both in Hartford, Connecticut. The workshop planning activities
have involved a partnership among business, organized labor, Federal agencies, state agencies, and professional
associations. More information is available at http://www.oehc.uchc.edu/news/control_banding.htm
Control banding training to address silica exposures in Chile
On September 9-17, a five-member NIOSH interdivisional team traveled to Santiago, Chile, to provide training and
technical assistance to the Occupational Health Department, Instituto de Salud Publica de Chile (ISP) [Chile Public
Health Institute] and the Ministerio del Salud de Chile [Chile Ministry of Health] as part of the NIOSH 2006-2007
Program for Elimination of Silicosis in the Americas.
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The team presented a 3-day course and included live translation during the two classroom days and one field visit
day to a quartz quarry and rock crushing plant. Attendees learned about strategies for assessing and controlling
exposures to silica-containing dust in mines and other high-risk workplaces. On following days, the team
participated in joint field site visits with ISP to a large underground and surface copper mine in the Andes and a
rock crushing small enterprise in the Santiago region. Plans are being made for continued collaboration during
Chemical Risk Management Training Workshop (February 2006)
NIOSH teamed up with the Kentucky Safety and Health Network and held two control banding workshops at two
Kentucky universities in January 2006. workshops involved use of the GTZ Chemical Risk Management Guide
and Training (External PDF Link). Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University hosted the 3-day events
and provided faculty and student involvement in cooperation with representatives from local businesses recruited
to participate in the training.
The workshops began with a full day of training in which participants learned the following chemical management
Identifying “hot spots” (places where chemical situation could be improved to reduce risks)
Analyzing the possible risks involved and the causes of those risks
Developing a plan to reduce risks
Applying the control banding system
Evaluating the success of the changes
On the second day of the workshops, teams of students visited assigned places of business to assess the
chemical management situations at the specific facilities.
On the final day of the workshop, participants continued training and were encouraged to follow-up with the places
they visited.
Case Report at a groundskeeping facility:
The training program was particularly successful for a team that worked with a landscaping and grounds
maintenance facility. When the team first assessed the facility, they found the following:
7 “hot spots” were identified
No Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were available on location
The team identified the health hazards of each chemical using available documentation (material safety data
sheets, or MSDSs), the amount of the chemical on location, the number of times the chemical was used, and the
volatility of the chemical to assess the chemicals and group them according to the control banding system. When
the group visited the facility for the second time at a later date, several improvements based on the team’s
recommendations were noted:
MSDSs were up-to-date and available for reference
Chemicals were organized and contained
All spills were addressed
All unused / unknown chemicals were cleaned up.
Ongoing Projects
NIOSH researchers are continuing to investigate the potential applications and utility of control banding to address
occupational safety and health challenges, particularly in small business enterprises. Examples of demonstration
projects and activities are noted below:
Draft hazard guidance materials to address glutaraldehyde exposures in health care
NIOSH/OSHA/HSE Partnership to develop control-focused guidance solutions
Draft state-of-the-art critical review document
CD-ROM (under development)
DVD training module (in production)
NIOSH Contacts
For additional information, contact T.J. Lentz ([email protected]) or Rick Niemeier ([email protected]) .
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Other Related NIOSH Topic Pages
Chemical Safety
Small Business
Additional Control Banding Links
Several Web sites now address control banding, including the following:
AIHA Control Banding Working Group
External Link: http://www.aiha.org/Content/InsideAIHA/Volunteer+Opportunities/controlbanding.htm
International Occupational Hygiene Association
External link: http://www.ioha.net/content/view/14/
International Labour Organization
External link: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/ctrl_banding/index.htm
Selected References
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry [1995]. Guidance on setting in-house occupational exposure
limits for airborne therapeutic substances and their intermediates. London, England: ABPI.
ACGIH [2004]. 2nd International Control Banding Workshop: Validation and Effectiveness of Control Banding.
Cincinnati, Ohio, March 1-2, 2004.
External link: http://www.acgih.org/events/ControlBand/
Ahasan, MR [2002]. Occupational health, safety and ergonomic issues in small and medium-sized enterprises in a
developing country. Oulu, Finland: University of Oulu. Dissertation.
External link: http://herkules.oulu.fi/isbn9514268121/html/index.html
Balsat A, deGraeve J, and Mairiaux P [2003]. A structured strategy for assessing chemical risks suitable for small
and medium-sized enterprises. Ann Occup Hyg 47(7): 549-556.
BOHS [2002]. Control Banding Workshop: A Joint Workshop Held in November 2002 with BIOH and IOHA
Supported by HSE, WHO, and ILO
Brooke IM [1998]. A UK scheme to help small firms control health risks from chemicals: toxicological
considerations. Ann Occup Hyg 42(6): 377-390.
Gardiner RJ, Oldershaw PJ [1991]. Development of pragmatic exposure-control concentrations based on
packaging regulation risk phrases. Ann Occup Hyg 35(1):51-59.
Cohen H, White EM [2006]. Metalworking fluid mist occupational exposure limits: a discussion of alternative
methods. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 3(9):501-7
Farris JP, Ader AW, Ku RH [2006]. History, implementation and evolution of the pharmaceutical hazard
categorization and control system. Chemistry Today 24(2):5-10.
Garrod AN, Rajan-Sithamparanadarajah R [2003]. Developing COSHH Essentials: dermal exposure, personal
protective equipment and first aid. Ann Occup Hyg 47(7):577-588.
Goede HA, Tijssen SC, Schipper HJ, Warren N, Oppl R, Kalberlah F, and Van Hemmen JJ [2003]. Classification
of dermal exposure modifiers and assignment of values for a risk assessment toolkit. Ann Occup Hyg 47(8): 609618.
GTZ (Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit) [2005]. Pilot project chemical safety.
External link: http://www2.gtz.de/chs/englisch/index.htm
HSE (United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive) [2005]. COSHH essentials.
External link: http://www.coshh-essentials.org.uk/
Hudspith B, Hay AW [1998]. Information needs of workers. Occup Hyg 42(6):401-406.
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ILO (International Labour Organization [2005a]. ILO chemical control toolkit: draft guidelines.
PDF only 548 KB (15 pages)
External link: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/ctrl_banding/toolkit/main_guide.pdf
ILO (International Labour Organization [2005b]. Safework: chemical control banding.
External link: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/ctrl_banding/index.htm
IOHA (International Occupational Hygiene Association) [2004]. WHO/IPCS Planning meeting on Control Banding.
External link: http://www.ioha.net/component/option,com_docman/task,view_category/subcat,6/catid,10/
Jackson H [2002]. Control banding - practical tools for controlling exposure to chemicals. Asian-Pacific Newsletter
Jackson H, Vickers C [2003]. Report of the international control banding workshop, London, November 2002.
International Occupational Hygiene Association.
External link: http://www.ioha.net/index.php?option=com_docman&task=down&bid=59
Jones RM, Nicas M [2006]. Evaluation of COSHH Essentials for vapor degreasing and bag filling operations.
Annals of Occupational Hygiene 50:137-147.
Jones RM, Nicas M [2006]. Margins of safety provided by COSHH Essentials and the ILO Chemical Control
Toolkit. Annals of Occupational Hygiene 50(2):149-156.
Jones R, Nicas M [2004]. Evaluation of the ILO toolkit with regards to hazard classification and control
effectiveness. Poster presentation at the 2nd International Control Banding Workshop, Cincinnati, OH, March 1-2.
Maidment SC [1998]. Occupational hygiene considerations in the development of a structured approach to select
chemical control strategies. Ann Occup Hyg 42(6):391-400.
Marquart J, Brouwer DH, Gijsbers JH, Links IH, Warren N, Van Hemmen JJ [2003]. Determinants of dermal
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Naumann BD, Sargent EV, Starkman BS, Fraser WJ, Becker GT, Kirk GD [1996]. Performance-based exposure
control limits for pharmaceutical active ingredients. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 57(1):33-42.
Oldershaw PJ [2001]. Control banding - a practical approach to judging control methods for chemicals. Journal of
Preventive Medicine 9(4): 52-58.
Oldershaw, PJ [2003]. Control Banding Workshop, 4-5 November 2002, London. Editorial. Ann Occup Hyg 47
Oppl R, Kalberlah F, Evans PG, Van Hemmen JJ [2003]. A toolkit for dermal risk assessment and management: an
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Schuhmacher-wolz U, Kalberlah F, Oppl R, Van Hemmen JJ [2003]. A toolkit for dermal risk assessment:
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Occup Hyg 47(7):541-48.
Tischer M, Scholaen S [2003]. Chemical management and control strategies: experiences from the GTZ pilot
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Tischer M, Bredendiek-Kamper S, Poppek U [2003]. Evaluation of the HSE COSHH Essentials exposure predictive
model on the basis of BauA field studies and existing substances exposure data. Ann Occup Hyg 47(7): 557-569.
Topping M [2002]. COSHH Essentials: From concept to one-stop system. Presentation at the 1st International
Control Banding Workshop, London, England, November (refer to BOHS [2002]).
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Topping MD, Williams CR, and Devine JM [1998]. Industry's perception and use of occupational exposure limits.
Ann Occup Hyg 42(6): 357-366.
UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) [2005]. Globally harmonized system of classification
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Van Hemmen JJ, Auffarth J, Evans PG [2003]. Rajan-Sithamparanadarajah B, Marquart H, Oppl R [2003].
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