Confessions of a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) Examinee interviews recent successful examinees of the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) exam administered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH).  The resultant text is as follows:  When did you decide to take the CIH exam?

Examinee:  I decided in 2003 to make it a goal of mine to obtain the CIH certification.  When did you obtain certification?

Examinee:  I actually obtained certification in May 2010.  What is your current career field and how do you feel it prepared you?

Examinee:  Currently I am in the consulting field.  I feel that it (i.e. being a consultant) prepared me by having the ability to complete a multitude of traditional IH projects.  The great thing about being a consultant is that there is always something new and fresh in meeting the needs of the client, which exposes you to a variety of the traditional “IH rubrics”.  How long had you been in the IH/Safety career field when you sat for the CIH exam?

Examinee:  Less than 10 years.  I believe it was actually 9 years.  While you can take the test after 5 years, I have always personally regarded the CIH designation highly.  I felt that it was important and wanted to have a certain “skillset” prior to sitting for the exam.  Are you saying that you did not just want to have a “certification” but wanted to be able to exemplify the characteristics of most CIH’s in the field?

Examinee:  Exactly.  That is precisely my thoughts and feelings.  What was/is your work/career-life like?

Examinee:  I consider myself very fortunate to have a very well qualified mentor (who is a CIH) and excellent IH support staff around me.  Personally, I feel that it would have been much more difficult to obtain such a high level IH skillset without those continuing resources.  Personally, how many hours do you think you studied in preparation for the CIH exam?

Examinee:  Great question.  But one that I thought about many times after many months of studying.  I’d imagine that I studied somewhere in the range of 700-800 hours in all.  Granted, this was over a few years.  However, over the final year leading up to the exam, the final breakdown was probably somewhere in the range of:

  • > 12 months out = 120 hours
  • 12 – 6 months out = 200 hours
  • 6  – 3 months out = 200 hours
  • 3 – 1 months out = 120 hours
  • < 1 month out = 60-90 hours

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Free Online Training Modules in Occupational Hygiene

The Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), has created a new website,, where free course materials for international occupational hygiene training modules are posted.  Find training materials, learn about occupational hygiene, or develop your existing skillset.

Modules currently available include:

  • Noise
  • Asbestos
  • Measurement of Hazardous Substances
  • Health Effects of Hazardous Substances
  • Control of Hazardous Environments
  • Thermal Environments
  • Ergonomics
  • Basic Principles of Occupational Hygiene

According to the website, OHTA mission is as follows:

OHTA was formed to promote better standards of occupational hygiene practice throughout the world.  We develop training materials and make them freely available for use by students and training providers.  We also promote an international qualifications framework so that all hygienists are trained to a consistent, high standard, recognized in all participating countries.

Odor Thresholds, TLVs, OELs, IDLHs, and Respirator Selection Guide for Chemicals

3M Corporation put together a respiratory protection guide (download link at end of this article) that contains a wealth of information for OH&S professionals including:

  • Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) levels
  • Odor Thresholds
  • Occupational Exposure Levels (OELs)
  • Respiratory Protection Selection Guide

IDLH’s are published by NIOSH and “refers to the acute respiratory exposure that poses an immediate threat of loss of life, immediate or delayed irreversible adverse effects on health, or acute eye exposure that would prevent escape from a hazardous atmosphere.”

With reference to odor thresholds it should be noted:

The method of defining and determining odor thresholds varies widely, thereby giving rise to a significant range of reported odor thresholds for many substances. Individuals may also respond differently to the same odor. At a given concentration, one person may smell and recognize the odor, while another person may barely notice it. The odor thresholds reported in the literature are typically determined for a single constituent, with no other chemicals present in the air. The single constituent situation rarely occurs in the workplace. Therefore, caution must be exercised in using these numbers.

Referenced OELs are based upon ACGIH’s TLVs, except where noted in the chart.

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Results for’s Occupational Health & Safety Salary Survey

The results are in from‘s Occupational Health & Safety Salary Survey.  300 Occupational Health and Safety Professionals responded to the survey request for information pertaining to career length, certifications, salary, geographic location, etc.  The results are as follows:

Of the 297 respondents, nearly three quarters were male.

Age followed a typical bell curve with the majority of respondents being between 35-60 years of age.

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Return on Investment (ROI) for Early Ergonomic Intervention

The Canadian Occupational Safety webzine recently published an article regarding the types of returns companies can expect from early ergonomic intervention.  The purpose of the article was to “to show the business case for using ergonomic and accessible design early in the design/build, move, renovation and/or purchase phase” and their numbers sound convincing.  Jane Sleeth, managing director and consultant with Optimal Performance Consultants, stated that the cases they have worked on have shown significant ROI when sound ergonomic principles are used in the early stages of workplace/work-process design.

Most importantly are the numbers discussed.  Sleeth states that,

Over the last 20 years, we found that businesses that use ergonomics and human factors at the initial phase of purchasing, design, move and/or build projects save anywhere from 15 percent to as high as 700 percent in follow up consulting fees, modifications and retrofits, as well as additional capital purchase costs.

To view the article, visit the COS website HERE.

AIHA Survey Highlights the Profession’s Attitudes

AIHA recently conducted a survey to assess the attitudes pertaining to the profession of the membership base. Highlights include the following:

  • Most respondents expected to see an increase  in work related stress.
  • Many respondents expected to see work hours increase
  • A majority of respondents support/would support fines & penalties and as a result expect it to be more difficult to report problems as they arise
  • 50% have 25+ years of experience.
  • Respondents are seeking professional development and certification in multiple formats, including online programs and distance learning

Further information will be provided in’s 2010 Occupational Health & Safety Salary Survey.  Stay tuned for the results.


2010 Occupational Health & Safety Salary Survey

Survey is now closed.  Results to be posted soon.

This officially unofficial survey (18 quick questions) will provide compensation information gathered from survey information received voluntarily from individuals holding the CIH certification, as well as those with the CSP, CHMM certifications and/or the designation of ASP. Additionally, we invite practicing health and safety professionals (including EHS practitioners) who do not have one of the aforementioned certifications/designations (or have a different certification/designation) to contribute to the survey. The larger and more relevant the survey population, the better the survey results!

Upon completion of the survey period, OHShub will compile the data and post the results and related statistics on our website. All entries are anonymous and no identifying data will be stored. While we do not guarantee the accuracy of the survey results, we ask that all contributors answer the questions as complete and accurate as possible. For questions or comments, please contact us.
Health & Safety at the Center of Our World

Take the 2010 Occupational Health & Safety Salary Survey

NIOSH Updates List of Hazardous Drugs Used in Healthcare

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings was published in September 2004. In Appendix A of the Alert, NIOSH identified a sample list of major hazardous drugs. The list was compiled from infor-mation provided by four institutions that have generated lists of hazardous drugs for their respec-tive facilities and by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) from the American Hospital Formulary Service Drug Information (AHFS DI) monographs. This update adds 21 drugs to the original list in the 2004 Alert. These additions are new drugs or existing drugs that had new warnings from 2004 to 2007.

To download a copy of this document, click HERE (NIOSH Alert: List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs Used in Healthcare (1319)).


OSHA Interpretations: 5 Responses to Scaffolding

For information on fall protection, see’s Post , Fall Protection Guidelines.

Five popular Scaffolding interpretations from OSHA (29CFR1926.450, Subpart L).

Question 1: When may the space between scaffold planks or between scaffold planks and uprights exceed one inch in width?

Answer: The relevant standard, 29 CFR §1926.451(b)(1)(i), states:

Each platform unit (e.g., scaffold plank, fabricated plank, fabricated deck, or fabricated platform) shall be installed so that the space between adjacent units and the space between the platform and the uprights is no more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide,except where the employer can demonstrate that a wider space is necessary (for example, to fit around uprights when side brackets are used to extend the width of the platform).  (Emphasis added).

In addition, 29 CFR §1926.451(b)(1)(ii) states:

Where the employer makes the demonstration provided for in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, the platform shall be planked or decked as fully as possible and the remaining open space between the platform and the uprights shall not exceed 9 ½ inches (24.1 cm).  (Emphasis added).

Question 2: Scenario: Employees are on a supported scaffold during erecting and dismantling. While on the scaffold they are using 100% fall protection by being tied off at all times. Under this scenario is there a requirement to have guardrails when on the scaffold’s wooden planks?

Answer: No. Section 1926.451(g)(2) states in part:

… the employer shall have a competent person determine the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees erecting and dismantling supported scaffolds. Employers are required to provide fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds where the installation and use of such protection is feasible and does not create a greater hazard.

In this scenario fall protection is already being used. There is no additional requirement to have guardrails.

Question 3: Do the OSHA standards prohibit tying off to a scaffold?

Answer: No.

It is OSHA’s position that scaffolding can function as a suitable anchorage for fall arrest systems when the scaffolding section so used is erected and braced such that the criteria of §1926.502(d)(15) are met. This applies whether the scaffold is partially built (i.e., being erected or disassembled) or completely built.

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CIH Exam Prep Questions: Volume II, Part V


The latest CIH exam prep questions have been posted to You can find these 30 questions covering a wide range of IH topics HERE.

Also, don’t forget to check out’s newest publications to assist you in your CIH exam prep and/or in your practice of industrial hygiene. You can find the shop at or by clicking HERE.

Control Banding: Qualitative Hazard Analysis

“The majority of chemical substances in commerce have no established occupational exposure limits (OELs). In the absence of established OELs, employers and workers often lack the necessary guidance on the extent to which occupational exposures should be controlled. A strategy to control occupational exposures that may have value when there are no relevant OELs is known as control banding (CB). CB is a qualitative strategy for assessing and managing hazards associated with chemical exposures in the workplace. The question about the utility of the CB strategy for workplaces in the United States has been raised, warranting a critical review of its concepts and applications. This report is the result of a review of the published literature and related proceedings on CB.

In summary, this review and analysis have led to recognition of the following key messages:

  • Control banding is a potentially valuable tool for risk management of source chemical agents and other occupational hazards.
  • Despite limitations, in the absence of OELs, CB may be a useful strategy for assessing and controling occupational hazards as part of a comprehensive safety and health program.
  • CB is not meant to be a substitute for OELs.
  • The use of CB does not alleviate the need for environmental monitoring and industrial hygiene expertise.
  • CB strategies may be useful for providing hazard control guidance to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs); larger businesses may find CB strategies of greatest utility for prioritizing hazards and for hazard communication.

Additional development, evaluation, and discussion are required before widespread implementation of CB in the United States can be recommended. This document is intended to set the stage for that discussion. At this time, the existing toolkits for CB may not be appropriate for the United States and will need modification before being applied. Critical is the need for a dynamic system that incorporates changing factors over time for both control implementation and managerial oversight. It is recommended that a taskforce of safety and health professionals, labor and management, and government representatives be established to advance the research and development needs for CB in the United States.”

To download a copy of this document, click here (Control Banding (1112))


Difference Between Combustible and Flammable Liquids

Question #1: Why are the definitions for combustible liquids and flammable liquids different under OSHA’s construction and general industry standards?

Answer #1:

The terms “combustible liquids” and “flammable liquids” are defined in the construction standard at 29 CFR 1926 and in the general industry standard at 29 CFR 1910 as follows:

Construction General Industry
Combustible liquids §1926.155(c) §1910.106(a)(18)
“[A]ny liquid having a flash point at or above 140 °F. (60 °C.) and below 200 °F. (93.4 °C.).” “[A]ny liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100 °F. (37.8 °C.).”
Flammable liquids §1926.155(h) §1910.106(a)(19)
“[A]ny liquid having a flash point below 140 °F. and having a vapor pressure not exceeding 40 pounds per square inch (absolute) at 100 °F.” “[A]ny liquid having a flashpoint below 100 °F. (37.8 °C.), except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 100 °F. (37.8 °C.) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.”

The definitions in the two standards are different because the definitions were adopted from different sources. The definitions in the general industry standard originated in a national consensus standard, NFPA 30-1969, while the definitions in the construction standard were adopted from established federal standards under the Construction Safety Act. Because the two sources defined the terms differently, the construction standard and the general industry standard are not consistent.

Question #2: Are there any plans to make the definitions consistent?

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