Be sure to review the ACGIH TLV® Guidebook.  This is an invaluable resource as you prepare to take the CIH exam.  Do not try to memorize the TLV tables, but be sure to read through the text.  We recommend reading this little gem at least two or three times before you sit for your exam.


The deadline for the Spring 2011 CIH exam is February 1.  It is crucial that your application is submitted to the Board prior to February 1 if you intend to take the CIH exam this spring.  Please see the ABIH's instructions for applicants and reapplicants.

Prepare for the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) certification exam with this comprehensive Bowen EHS® Workshop. Our exam prep workshops are offered for those who prefer a short intense course in preparation for the CIH exam. All workshops take place in a traditional classroom environment and cover the same material presented during our popular CIH online review course. Online access to the Bowen EHS® Member Center will allow participants to complete the required homework and course final exam outside of class. 

Access to course materials is provided for 1 year from the course start date through the Bowen EHS® Member Center. Eligible for CM hours, COC points, and CEUs.

This free Bowen EHS podcast lays out a road map on how to prepare for the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) exam offered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). Presented by Russell Bowen, CIH, CSP.

One of the greatest things about our job is that we frequently hear from our clients how our training and services were very helpful in passing their certification exam. I always have a warm, positive feeling after reading an email or talking with someone on the phone about their success. I make an effort to personally congratulate everyone that I speak with.

Unfortunately, not everyone passes their exam.  This is especially true of the CIH exam where the typical passing rate is between 35% and 40%.  I try to offer encouragement and suggestions on how to study for the next attempt.  Of course, as our guarantee states, we allow everyone that is unsuccessful after taking our exam online review or in-person workshop to take the course again at no cost. (the exam must be taken within in 1 year from the course end date.)

This is an interesting question, especially around the career of occupational health and safety.  I'm certain the meaning of a being a professional is as varied as the number of people that consider themselves professionals.  However, there are probably a core set of values and ideas that resonate with the majority of professionals.

Here is a short list of my definition of a health and safety professional.  I believe a professional in the field of occupational health and safety is a person that....

  1. understands the fundamental concepts of occupational health and safety risk assessment,
  2. is able to apply these fundamental concepts in new situations and scenarios,
  3. continually seeks to improve their understanding of occupational risk including the science and technology in the work place, and
  4. follows an ethical code of conduct.

There is a saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  It is often difficult for an experienced professional to learn new ideas and methods.  We get used to the way we’ve always done things and we’ve had success with our methods.  Why would we want to change?  Learning new methods takes a lot of work and there’s no guarantee new methods will be any better.

'Twas the night before the exam, and all through his home,
The only creature stirring was the IH reading his tome.
His TLV® book was spread open wide,
and he was bent over a calculator trying to decide...
"What was that equation for radiation activity decay?
I do hope they won't ask that question today!"

I recently attended my nephew's wedding and it started me thinking about disasters. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think getting married is a disaster for my nephew and his bride. It's a good thing and I'm sure they'll be very happy. Just thinking of the complexity of planning and executing the event, however, started the wheels of my crazy safety professional mind turning. There are striking similarities between planning for any major event, such as a wedding, and planning for a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) incident response.

Think about it. The wedding planner acts as the incident commander, coordinating many different "agencies": the bride's family, groom's family, the caterer, guests with special diet needs (can you say gluten free?), the photographer, the spiritual leader, etc., each of whom have their own specific needs and concerns. Groomsmen need to rent tuxedos and bridesmaids have coordinated dresses made. The success of the ceremony and ensuing celebration rises or falls based on the organizational abilities and communications skills of the planner.

Similarly, hazardous materials incident commanders coordinate local, state and federal agencies, law enforcement, rescue personnel, emergency medical personnel and public health personnel, and the list continues depending on the size of the event. There is personal protective equipment to consider and mitigation of unexpected events. One key to successful mitigation of a hazardous materials incident is a clear line of authority and proper communication among all agencies. Pre-planning is vital to the successful mitigation of HAZMAT incidents, just as it is in a successful wedding celebration.

Weddings, of course, have two major advantages over HAZMAT incidents: 1 - the date and time of a wedding are determined in advance, and; 2 - the risk of serious injury or loss of property is almost negligible.  Both the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) exams have questions on dealing with the incident command system and dealing with hazardous materials (HAZMAT) incidents. There are two great resources to study when learning the basics of the HAZMAT Incident Command System (ICS). The first resource is the classic "Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities", also known as the four agency manual as it was written by four agencies of the U.S. Government. You can download this manual from OSHA here:  While it was originally written in 1985, much of the information is relevant today. The only chapter that is clearly out of date is the chapter on air monitoring instrumentation. Significant progress has been made in air monitoring technology since 1985. The other great resource is the Incident Command Resource Center created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This website is located at

While I played a very minor role in the wedding, I truly enjoyed being part of the process. My role was clear and I did it well. It was a joy to see the happy couple start their new life together. After the bride and groom kissed at the end of the ceremony, we all had loads of fun dining and dancing at the celebration. There were no casualties or property damage and everyone went home happy. It was the perfect conclusion to a major event and the end result of effective planning.

Some of our most popular and powerful exam resources are our Exam Logistics forums. In them, clients like yourselves post their impressions of the exams, including study tips and what to expect when you arrive at a test center. We encourage the use of these forums, because the shared contributions of all of us can help individuals who are studying by themselves feel less alone. We at Bowen strive to create a community of like-minded professionals seeking the same goals. However, even communities have rules, and one of ours is definitely non-negotiable: confidential exam details must not be posted. Here's why it's so important.

In order to become a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), or Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), a candidate must complete the following steps:

  1. Meet a minimum number of years of professional experience
  2. Meet a minimum educational requirement
  3. Submit letters of recommendation written by people familiar with the person's work
  4. Pass a comprehensive exam

The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to ensure the candidate possesses basic knowledge and skills in all topics related to the profession. It is not practical to fully evaluate the depth of knowledge in each topic, but it provides a sampling of fundamental comprehension and abilities.  It is absolutely essential that the exam content remains confidential. If people know exactly what is on the test, the test will no longer serve as an evaluation of basic knowledge. It will instead test the candidate's ability to memorize specific answers and study specific topics.

We at Bowen EHS, Inc. are committed to helping other professionals prepare for and pass their certification exam. However, we must be very careful and never forget the purpose of the exam. There are negative consequences if we allow our courses and our member center to become a conduit for our clientele to give away detailed exam information. The least negative consequence is that the certification boards will have to work harder to continually update their exam materials. The most negative consequence would be the overall lowering of the exam integrity and ultimately the degrading of the certification itself.

We, at Bowen EHS, Inc. have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the certification exams. One way we do so is by monitoring posts in our Member Center and avoid publicly publishing materials that give overly detailed information regarding the exam. I don't believe there is a definitive line between providing exam tips in the interest of helping others and giving away the exam. There is much fuzziness.

I encourage all of our members to help each other, but I also encourage members to remember the importance of protecting the integrity of the exams.

A common question that I receive from Bowen EHS ASP/CSP class participants is: "when will I know I am ready to take the exam?" You don't want to wait too long because you want the course material to be fresh, yet you do not want to take it too soon, only to find that you're not ready. Here are some practical tips to help you make that decision for yourself:

  1. Try to take your exam within three months of your review class so that the material is still fresh. If the class was truly a review for you, schedule the exam on the front end of this window. If you used your course to teach yourself the concepts and had done little studying prior to the course, aim for the latter end.
  2. Have you made review notes and cards of all the Bowen EHS material? Studying the math alone is not enough. Prior to taking your exam, you should be able to recall most (80-85%) of your study materials when prompted by someone else. Make yourself questions from the lectures.
  3. Study your math. Make blank copies of the homework, final exam and optional final exams. Take them periodically without the use of anything but your calculator and BCSP formula sheet. You should be scoring at least 80% prior to taking your exam. Do the same with the study questions in the Bowen EHS® Member Center.
  4. Do you know how to use your calculator? You need to know how to use the statistical functions (find mean, median, and standard deviation), the probability function (prb key) and how to enter log functions, at a minimum, before you take your exam.
  5. Teach someone else. If you really understand a concept, you should be able to explain it to someone else. A study group works best but a spouse, older child, family member or friend, etc. will also work. Many times you will have an "Ah Ha!" moment when doing this.
  6. Get the BCSP Self Assessment Guides, test yourself, and aim for scores of at least 80% without notes. Study the answers in the back as well and make notes from them.
  7. Improve your knowledge on topics that you still do not understand. You do not have to be an expert in everything, but as we tell you in class, picking "C" for everything is also not the wisest option. Three sources of information that may help are: the recorded lectures (pause and take notes, listen to recordings of the other instructor's lectures, if applicable); the Kahn Academy website; and Safety and Health for Engineers by Roger Brauer.

You will not know everything, and your goal is not to get the best ever score on the exam. Your goal is to pass and get three new letters after your name. Most people who have completed the steps above are ready for the exam. Once you get to this point, don't continue to wait because the momentum cannot last forever. People who wait tend to get caught up in life--their studying suffers or they may end up not taking the exam at all.

So, are you ready for your exam?



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