Results are presented from a study that investigated the effect of data interpretation training on exposure judgment accuracy of industrial hygienists across several companies in different industry sectors. Participating companies provided monitoring information on specific exposure tasks. Forty-nine hygienists from six companies participated in the study, and 22 industrial tasks were evaluated. The number of monitoring data points for individual tasks varied between 5 and 24. After reviewing all available basic characterization information for the job, task, and chemical, hygienists were asked to provide their judgment on the probability of the 95th percentile of the underlying exposure distribution being located in one of four exposure categories relative to the occupational exposure limit as outlined in the AIHA exposure assessment strategy. Ninety-three qualitative judgments (i.e., without reviewing monitoring data) and 2142 quantitative judgments (i.e., those made after reviewing monitoring data) were obtained. Data interpretation training, with simple rules of thumb for estimating 95th percentiles, was provided to all hygienists. A data interpretation test was administered before and after training. All exposure task judgments were collected before and after training. Data interpretation test accuracy for the hygienists increased from 48% to 67% after training (p < 0.001) and a significant underestimation bias was removed. Hygienist quantitative task judgment accuracy improved from 46% to 69% (p < 0.001) post-training. Accuracy results showed good improvement in industrial hygienists quantitative judgments as a result of training. Hence, the use of statistical tools is promoted to improve judgments based on monitoring data and provide feedback and calibration to improve qualitative judgments. It may be worthwhile to develop standard training programs to improve exposure judgments.
- bias in exposure judgment
- data interpretation exposure judgment accuracy
- professional judgment