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Recently, VelocityEHS hosted its CEU Conference, which included six sessions, all of which qualify for continuing education unit (CEU) credits. Principal Solutions Strategist, Dave Risi, CSP, CIH, presented “Industrial Hygiene Program Governance Workshop” and provided the framework to establish, monitor, and communicate (to managers and workers) the status of your Industrial Hygiene program.

If you missed it, no problem! Read the session highlights below or watch the on-demand recording at your convenience!

SEG Confirmation: Are my SEGs homogeneous/similar?

Consider using one of the following methods to assess your similar exposure groups (SEGs):

  • Scatter Diagram: This is the simplest method for finding SEGs within the data.
  • Geometric Standard Deviation (GSD): GSD is used to determine how common the data is in relation to the lognormal mean. The SEG is considered to be homogeneous if the GSD is less than three.
  • K-Means Analysis: This is used to identify and confirm SEGs’ homogeneity through associated matrices. Groups of similar data are put together into clusters that identify the SEGs.

Risk Rating: Does my sample data correlate with my Qualitative Exposure Assessment (QEA) risk rating?

Consider using one or more of the following data points to assess the correlation:

  • Geometric Mean: The lognormal average of the data set. The IHSTAT tool is available online for this calculation.
  • 95th Percentile: This value means that 95% of employee exposures should fall below the referenced value. This is a conservative and accurate method to determine the exposure rating. The IHSTAT tool can also generate this calculation.
  • 95%/95% Upper Tolerance Limit (UTL): This is most common in pharmaceutical industries because it is typically used for higher health risk agents. This is a more conservative measure of the true exposure. The IHSTAT tool can also generate this calculation.
  • Bayesian Statistical Analysis: This statistic takes your professional judgment on the exposure rating and relates it to the data. A benefit of using Bayesian is you don’t have to collect as much data. You can validate your exposure rating with as few as two or three samples.

Sampling Strategy: Where and how many samples do I need to take?

Samples are primarily taken to validate the qualitative risk assessment where an employee may have been exposed to a stressor for an extended period of time. Consider the following sample strategies:

  • NIOSH Sampling Strategy: This method details several sampling methodologies and statistics. It requires a lot of sample data, including five worst-case samples and two additional samples every two months, if the results are greater than the action level.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA helps ensure safe and healthy work conditions for employees by setting and enforcing standards. Its main focus is to provide sampling and analysis methodologies (e.g., OSHA 12). However, some of its specific stressor standards, like lead, have specific requirements for sampling if the results are above the action limit.
  • Risk-based Algorithm – Baseline: QEAs that indicate exposure risks exceeding 30% of the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) should have a minimum number of samples to establish a “baseline” assessment. If the data is inconsistent, additional samples can be taken to determine the “typical” exposure potential.
  • Risk-based Algorithm – Post Baseline: Once a baseline is established, algorithms can be used to derive the number of samples for a sampling plan. For example, if the GSD is less than three and the 95th percentile is low (< 10 % of the OEL), then no additional samples may be required. If, however, the GSD is less than three and the 95th percentile is high (> 100% of the OEL), then additional samples may be required. The purpose of the algorithm is to define exactly how many additional samples to take based on the specified criteria.

QEA Reassessments: When do I need to reassess each QEA?

  • Risk-based Algorithm: This method uses qualitative variables, such as the number of workers in the SEG, exposure rating, risk rating, and uncertainty rating. For example, if the number of workers in an SEG is less than three and the risk rating is one (i.e., the risk is low), then reassess the QEA every three years.

View the on-demand recording. For more, read the Q&A below.

Session Q&A

Q1. Are there any requirements or advantages to grouping data/sampling sets (e.g., day/night, summer/winter, etc.) and how would you collate outcomes to be meaningful/actionable?

A1. You need to identify the variables’ potential to affect the exposure. When looking at starting a qualitative exposure assessment program, we recommend utilizing the AIHA exposure assessment strategy as is. What percent of OEL are you at and how bad is that stressor? Then look at the data and determine if the risks identified are either high or low. Next, determine which other factors must be considered to remove the bias (such as frequency, duration, or control technology factors) and adjust your strategy accordingly to remove any bias and increase your precision.

Q2. How often should we revise the IH program?

A2. It should be assessed annually, but you should develop a list of questions to drive your mindset when performing the annual review.

Q3. What are some good books I could reference for creating an IH program?

A3 The VelocityEHS e-book, “7 Steps to Industrial Hygiene Success,” details good practices for developing and managing your IH program. Another great resource is AIHA’s exposure assessment strategy book.

Q4. Is there a generic IH checklist to identify the risk levels for an industry? If so, would you be able to share that checklist?

A4. Unfortunately, there are too many industries—and variables within each industry—to provide a generic IH checklist. We recommend joining industry committees and associations to meet with your peers and share ideas. Both the AIHA and ASSP offer these groups.

Q5. Do you have a user-friendly qualitative assessment worksheet that you prefer to use?

A5. Yes! We provide QEA worksheets to attendees of our IH Program Cycle webinars. Register to attend the next session on August 3.