The hierarchy of hazard controls is a systematic approach to identifying and controlling hazards in the workplace. It is based on the principle that the most effective way to control a hazard is to eliminate it. If that is not possible, the next best option is to substitute the hazard with a less risky alternative. If substitution is not possible, engineering controls can be implemented to reduce the risk, such as process changes, isolation, or ventilation. If engineering controls are insufficient or not possible, administrative controls such as safe work practices and training can be implemented. As a last resort, personal protective equipment (PPE) can be used to protect workers from hazards.
The hierarchy of hazard controls works by starting with the most effective control measures and progressing down to the least effective. The goal is to eliminate hazards whenever possible, and if that is not feasible, to find ways to substitute them with something less hazardous. If substitution is not possible, engineering controls can be implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to the hazard. If engineering controls are not sufficient, administrative controls can be used, and if all other controls are not feasible, PPE can be used as a last resort.
The five steps in the hierarchy of hazard controls are:
Hazard elimination is the best way to control a hazard because it removes the hazard from the workplace completely, which eliminates the risk of injury or illness to workers. It is the most effective control measure because it eliminates the hazard at the source, rather than just controlling the exposure to the hazard. While hazard elimination is the most effective control measure, it is also the most difficult to implement and may not always be possible.
Some examples of the hierarchy of hazard controls include eliminating the use of a hazardous chemical by substituting it with a safer alternative, implementing machine guards to physically separate workers from hazardous machinery, implementing safe work practices such as proper lifting techniques, and providing employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as earplugs to protect against noise hazards.
Administrative controls are measures that involve changes to the way people work in order to reduce the risk of injury or illness.
Some examples of administrative controls include:
Substitution hazard control involves replacing a hazard with something less hazardous. Some examples of substitution hazard control include:
Substitution hazard control is an effective way to reduce the risk of exposure to hazards and can be a more practical and cost-effective option than other control measures, such as hazard elimination or engineering controls. It is important to carefully evaluate the potential risks and benefits of substitution control measures to ensure that they are effective in reducing the risk of exposure to hazards.
The hierarchy of hazard controls can be applied in the workplace by identifying hazards and evaluating the risk of exposure to those hazards. The most effective control measures should be implemented first, starting with elimination and progressing down to the least effective measures. Risk assessment should be an ongoing process to ensure that the appropriate controls are in place to protect workers.
Risk assessment is an important part of the hierarchy of hazard controls because it helps to identify and evaluate hazards in the workplace and determine the appropriate control measures to reduce the risk of exposure. Risk assessment should be an ongoing process and should involve all levels of the hierarchy, from elimination and substitution to engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE.
Implementing engineering controls is an important part of the hierarchy of hazard controls because it involves making changes to the design of an equipment or process to reduce the risk of exposure to a hazard. Engineering controls can be further broken down into three basic types: process controls, isolation, and ventilation. Process controls involve changing the way a job or process is performed to reduce the risk of exposure to hazards. Isolation involves placing a barrier between the employee and the hazard, such as an enclosure or machine guard. Ventilation involves adding or removing air in the work environment to improve air quality and reduce airborne hazards.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment or clothing that is worn by workers to protect them from hazards. PPE is the least effective means of controlling hazards and should only be used as a last resort when all other control measures have been exhausted. Examples of PPE include hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, respirators, and earplugs. PPE should be used in conjunction with other control measures, such as engineering controls and administrative controls, to provide the most complete protection for workers. It is important to select the appropriate PPE for the specific hazard, provide training on its use and care, and ensure that it is properly maintained.
Administrative controls are practices, procedures, and policies that are put in place to reduce the risk of exposure to hazards in the workplace. Administrative controls can include developing and implementing safe work practices, providing education and training to employees on how to identify and minimize risk, and implementing good housekeeping practices to keep the work area clean and prevent the accumulation of hazardous materials. Administrative controls are also important for emergency preparedness, as they involve ensuring that all workers know how to respond in the event of an emergency and that the workplace has the necessary resources in place to handle emergencies.
Best practices for following the hierarchy of hazard controls in the workplace include identifying and evaluating hazards, implementing the most effective control measures first, and continuously evaluating and updating control measures as needed. It is also important to involve workers in the hazard control process, as they may have valuable insights and knowledge about the hazards they face and the controls that are most effective. Employers should also ensure that workers are properly trained on the controls that are in place and that personal protective equipment (PPE) is properly selected, fitted, and maintained.
To use the hierarchy of hazard controls in the workplace, follow these steps:
Identify the hazard: Identify the hazard that poses a risk to workers and assess the severity of the hazard.
Evaluate the risk: Evaluate the likelihood and severity of injury or illness that could result from the hazard.
Determine the most effective control measure: Select the most effective control measure from the hierarchy of hazard controls based on the severity of the hazard and the likelihood of injury or illness.
Implement the control measure: Implement the selected control measure.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the control measure: Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the control measure and make any necessary adjustments.
There are several benefits of using the hierarchy of hazard controls in the workplace:
It helps prioritize control measures: The hierarchy of hazard controls provides a systematic approach for selecting the most effective control measures based on the severity of the hazard and the likelihood of injury or illness. This helps prioritize control measures and ensures that the most effective measures are implemented first.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) should not be used as the only hazard control measure. PPE is the least effective control measure in the hierarchy of hazard controls and should only be used when other control measures are not feasible or sufficient to reduce the risk of exposure to a hazard.