Background/aim Control banding tools (CBT) offer an easy approach to identify risk management measures (RMMs) reducing worker exposure to hazardous substances. Intervention studies play an important role in monitoring the effectiveness of specific RMMs and their predicted potential to reduce exposure. We review a collection of published intervention studies comparing observed with CBT-predicted exposure changes.
Methods Intervention studies published in English from 1999 up to January 2017 were considered for inclusion based on a systematic search of Pubmed. Events were defined as workplace interventions when they aimed at reducing occupational exposure to hazardous substances due to a change in or an introduction of RMMs or where reductions occurred as a side effect, e.g. due to changes in the production process.
Where applicable, observed/monitored reductions in exposure are compared with predicted or anticipated exposure changes according to a qualitative CBT and the respective reduction factors and their estimated relative effectiveness for RMMs.
Results In total 50 intervention studies have been included in this review with a very broad scope spanning a variety of approaches at a variety of workplaces in different industries including, but not limited to, studies in the metal industry, rubber manufacturing, bakeries, printing, on welding or dust in construction. Methods and findings varied considerably between the reviewed studies and hence limit the scope to directly compare results and subsequently the effectiveness of the different interventions.
Overall the interventions reviewed have succeeded at reducing exposure levels. The comparison of observed exposure reductions with changes predicted according to CBT will facilitate an assessment and evaluation of the efficacy of RMMs.
Conclusion There is evidence that decreases in workplace exposure levels followed a variety of interventions in a variety of industries underlining the benefits of implementing RMMs at workplaces. However, at this point neither a clear tendency regarding the best choice of RMMs/or classes of RMMs can be ascertained nor any specific recommendations for workplace risk assessment can be made.
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