Oregon OSHA Construction Depot Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

May 23, 2017

An introduction to personal exposure monitoring

What is personal exposure monitoring?

Personal exposure monitoring is a way of measuring a worker's exposure level to a hazard. Common hazards that may require exposure monitoring include:

  • Respiratory hazards such as particulates, gases and vapors, biological organisms, and below normal concentrations of oxygen
  • Physical hazards such as radiation, heat, cold, vibration, and noise

 Gasmet portable monitor from Oregon OSHA's lab 

Why is personal exposure monitoring important?

Personal exposure monitoring is the key way to determine if workers are overexposed to a respiratory hazard and some physical hazards. Workers can be overexposed when:


They are doing work that produces the hazard


Tasks performed by other workers nearby produce the hazard


Production processes or equipment in the workplace produce the hazard


You can use personal exposure monitoring information to help you:

  • Determine if a worker's exposure is above acceptable limits
  • Reassure workers that their exposures are within safe levels
  • Comply with an Oregon OSHA exposure monitoring requirement
  • Verify the effectiveness of an engineering control
  • Select appropriate PPE for a worker
  • Establish an exposure monitoring program
  • Establish a historical exposure record for a worker

Who can do personal exposure monitoring?

You may be able to do exposure monitoring yourself if you have been trained and if you have the necessary equipment, which you may be able to rent. You can also schedule a consultation with an Oregon OSHA consultant, hire a consultant, or your workers' compensation insurance carrier may be able to help.

How is personal exposure monitoring done?

The method you use depends on the respiratory or physical hazard that you want to monitor. Commonly used methods include:

  • Sampling the air in the worker's breathing zone
  • Wipe sampling the worker's skin
  • Measuring noise levels near a worker

Before you start

Know why you are doing exposure monitoring, what respiratory or physical hazard you are going to monitor, and how you will use the monitoring results. If you are not sure, you may need a specialist to help you.

Key steps in exposure monitoring:

  • Identify hazards and evaluate them for potential exposures
  • Select appropriate sampling methods and media (NMAM, OSHA sampling methods)
  • Pre-calibration
  • Perform exposure monitoring
  • Post-calibration
  • Prepare analytical request forms, chain of custody, and shipment
  • Interpret results
  • Notify employees
  • Keep accurate records

What Oregon OSHA rules require exposure monitoring?

The following Oregon OSHA rules have exposure monitoring requirements:

General Industry, Division 2
Subdivision Rule Rule title
G 1910.95 Occupational noise exposure (also applies to construction work)
H 1910.120 Hazardous waste operations and emergency response
I 1910.134 Respiratory protection (also applies to construction work)
J 437-002-0146 Confined spaces (also applies to construction work)
RR 437-002-2304 Enclosed spaces
Z 1910.1001 Asbestos
Z 1910.1013 Beta-Propiolactone
Z 1910.1017 Vinyl chloride
Z 1910.1018 Inorganic arsenic
Z 1910.1025 Lead
Z 1910.1026 Chromium (VI)
Z 1910.1027 Cadmium
Z 1910.1028 Benzene
Z 1910.1029 Coke oven emissions
Z 1910.1043 Cotton dust
Z 1910.1044 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane
Z 1910.1045 Acrylonitrile
Z 1910.1047 Ethylene oxide
Z 1910.1048 Formaldehyde
Z 1910.1050 Methylenedianiline
Z 1910.1051 1,3 butadine
Z 1910.1052 Methylene chloride
Z 1910.1096 Ionizing radiation
Z 1910.1450 Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories

Construction, Division 3
Subdivision Rule Rule title
D 1926.60 Methylenedianiline (MDA)
D 1926.62 Lead
S 1926.800 Underground construction
Z 1926.1101 Asbestos
Z 1926.1126 Chromium (VI)
Z 1926.1127 Cadmium
Z 1926.1152 Methylene Chloride

Agriculture, Division 4
Subdivision Rule Rule title
G 437-004-0630 Noise exposure
I 437-004-1041 Respiratory protection
W 170.210 Restrictions during applications

Forest activities, Division 7
Subdivision Rule Rule title
D 437-007-0335 Hearing protection
D 437-007-0350 Respiratory protection when machines are operated