When to use control banding
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?
Ease of exposure
Are you easily exposed to toxic materials, gases, smoke, and dust? And what kinds of materials/chemicals or processes increase or decrease exposure?
Duration of 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?
Quantity of product
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?
Type of work/process
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
- You are working with highly dangerous materials, chemicals or processes
- You have several complicated processes going on in your lab but regardless of the process you want to provide a universal system to ensure everyone understands the level of danger associated with a material, chemical or process.
- Apply chemical safety levels of 1-4 (least exposure/dangerous/toxic, most exposure/dangerous/toxic)
- Assigning risk levels helps to identify the intensity of the response to the hazard