What it is
A form of risk assessment and rating that prioritizes hazards based on levels of risk and exposure, which leads to appropriate control selection.
Experienced lab workers and primary investigators should lead in establishing control bands and control measures.
Requires partnerships among:
When to use
Especially useful in research laboratories using hazardous chemicals. Can be applied to individual research groups, departments, or entire organizations.
Control banding is a method that:
The goal of control banding is to match the hazard to the best control method possible to ultimately eliminate or reduce risk of accident and injury.
Appropriate control strategies (i.e., risk management options) are determined for each grouping.
Examples of control strategies*
Control banding is particularly helpful to research laboratories using hazardous chemicals. Anyone working in or entering the laboratory should be able to understand the control measures that have been identified for the hazards. This includes lab workers, facilities, maintenance, custodial personnel, and visitors.
Control banding is a system that relies on continued management and reevaluation over time. Annual reviews of the control banding plan--and regular review of the assigned control bands--is highly recommended.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, a good way to decide if control banding is the proper method for you is to think about these five factors:
From a scale of 1 to 4, how toxic is the chemical or material you’re working with or the task you’re performing?
Are you easily exposed to toxic materials, gases, smoke, and dust? And what kinds of materials/chemicals or processes increase or decrease exposure?
How long are you exposed to this material or chemical? How long does this task take to complete where you have to be exposed to this material or chemical? If you are dealing with a highly toxic chemical or process, how can you reduce the duration of exposure and still successfully carry out your task?
This relates to the control measure of substitution or reduction. Can you perform your task with a less toxic chemical or material, can you reduce the amount to reduce your exposure and risk, and can you reduce the amount of time working with this material and still complete the task successfully to achieve the desired result?
Are there any steps in your experiment that are more dangerous than others? Does it involve grinding materials or transferring chemicals from one place to another, mixing chemicals? Did you perform a job hazard analysis and did you identify hazardous tasks or practices? You can apply a control band and assign a risk rating to remind lab workers of serious dangers as they are working and when to apply extreme caution. Depending on the level of severity, who has adequate training to perform this task safely?
Limitations: The risk rating and application of control bands to certain types of chemicals, materials, tasks and processes is based on the experience level of the person assigning them.
The perception of a threat varies from person-to-person and is also based on a level of experience. Well experienced lab workers may underestimate certain risks.
While you were scoping, you probably selected control banding because
Applying a control band using chemical safety levels 1-4 can help your team understand just how dangerous the material, chemical or task is. As with forms of risk rating, assigning a numerical value from 1, least dangerous/toxic to 4 most dangerous/toxic, it serves as a clear warning to anyone working in the lab, regardless of experience or educational level.
Chemical Safety Level (CSL) assignment should be accomplished through a partnership of your institution's Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) professionals, academic department management, and individual laboratory supervisors.
Common methods for determining appropriate CSL for laboratory activities include: Conceptual Hazard Levels and Raw Data.
This approach facilitates the assignment of laboratory activities to groups according to conceptual descriptions. (E.g., “Chemical Safety Level 1” is described as “Laboratory hazards equivalent to typical household use of chemicals”.) Once an activity is assigned a CSL, the various safety measures appropriate for that CSL may be explored.
One of the most common methods of “banding” chemicals is to use raw data for individual chemicals. The following tables illustrate how raw data can be used to assign laboratory activities to CSLs, which can then be associated to generic guidelines. Control banding scales generally range from 1-4 (1 lowest, 4 highest). Even within those individual hazard levels, you can take more specific numerical data like flashpoints, temperatures or toxicity levels and use them as maximum or minimum values to represent level of danger.
|Hazard||Fire||Reactivity||Acute Toxicity||Chronic Toxicity|
|CSL 1||Flashpoint above ambient temp (140 F)||No chemical changes expected in the process||All chemicals have known toxicities and OELs > 500 ppm||None known
|CSL 2||Flashpoint near ambient, expected concentration < 10% LEL||No known incompatibilities between chemicals being used||All chemicals have known toxicities and 10 ppm < OELs < 500 ppm||Specific target organs or irreversible effects suspected
|CSL 3||Expected concentration > 10% LEL||Chemicals with known reactions or contamination hazards present||Unknown toxicities or OEL < 10 ppm||Specific target organs or irreversible effects probable|
|CSL 4||Pyrophorics, air, or water reactives, etc.||High hazard reactions in use||OEL < 1 ppm||Irreversible toxicities require use of designated areas
|CSL 1||Any room, no ventilation||Read the label||Generic self inspection guidelines||Covered legs and feet||No unusual hazmat concern|
|CSL 2||Ventilated lab room||Follow the procedures||General training and check-in visits||Nitrile gloves, eye protection||Occupants respond as to general alarm|
|CSL 3||Lab room with local ventilation (fume hood)||Generic training for unexpected events||Process training and external audits||Appropriate gloves, eye protection, lab coat||Specific occupant responses planned before the event|
|CSL 4||Specifically designed lab||Practice before working with live materials||Written SOP and specific oversight practices||Process-specific PPE||Special responder planning|
This collection of methods and tools for assessing hazards in research laboratories is based on the publication, Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories. The guide was published in 2015 by the Hazard Identification and Evaluation Task Force of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Chemical Safety in response to a recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.