On the Strength and Validity of Hazard Banding

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Abstract

Hazard Banding (HB) is a process of allocating chemical substances in bands of increasing health hazard based on their hazard classifications. Recent Control Banding (CB) tools use the classifications of the United Nations Global Harmonized System (UN GHS) or the European Union Classifications, Labelling and Packaging (EU CLP) which are grouped over 5 HBs. The use of CB is growing worldwide for the risk control of substances without an Occupational Exposure Limit Value (OELV). Well-known CB-tools like HSE-COSHH Essentials, BAuA-Einfaches Maßnahmenkonzept Gefahrstoffe (EMKG), and DGUV-IFA-Spaltenmodell (IFA) use however different GHS/CLP groupings which may lead to dissimilar HBs and control regimes for individual substances. And as the choice for a CB tool seems to be determined by geography and/or local status these differences may hamper a global, aligned HSE approach. Therefore, the HB-engines of the three public CBs and an in-company (Solvay) CB called ‘Occupational Exposure Banding’ (S-OEB) were compared mutually and ranked in their relation with the OELV as the ‘de facto’ standard. This was investigated graphically and using a 5 strength indicator, statistical method. A data set of 229 substances with high-quality GHS/CLP classifications and OELVs was used. HB concentration ranges, as linked to S-OEB and COSHH, were validated against the corresponding OELV distributions. The four HB-engines allocate between 23 and 64% of the 229 substances in the same bands. The remaining substances differ at least one band, with IFA placing more substances in a higher hazard band, EMKG doing the opposite and COSHH and S-OEB in between. The overall strength scores of S-OEB, IFA, and EMGK HB-engines are higher than COSHH, with S-OEB having the highest overall strength score. The lower ends of the concentration ranges defined for the 3 ‘highest’ hazard bands of S-OEB were in good agreement with the 10th percentiles of the corresponding OELV distributions obtained from the substance data set. The lower ends of the COSHH concentration ranges comply with the 10th percentiles of the COSHH OELV distributions for dust/aerosol but not for vapour/gas substances. Both the S-OEB and COSHH concentration ranges underestimate the overall width of the OELV distributions that can span 2–3 orders of magnitude. As the performance of the S-OEB HB-engine meets our criteria of being at least as good as the public engines, it will be used as a standard within Solvay’s global operations. In addition, the method described here to evaluate the strength of HB-engines and the validity of their corresponding concentration ranges is a useful tool enabling further developments and worldwide alignment of HB.

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