Five Hazard Control Strategies In The Hierarchy Of Controls

Five Basic Hazard Control Strategies In The Hierarchy Of Controls

The Hierarchy of Controls is essential when performing a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). By following the hierarchy, organizations can implement strategies to reduce or eliminate hazards and promote safety in the workplace. This article provides an overview of the Hierarchy of Controls, including examples for each control level. Additionally, we review how to incorporate the Hierarchy of Controls into a JHA and provide an example. By understanding the Hierarchy of Controls, organizations can create safer working environments for their employees.

After reviewing your list of hazards with the employee, consider using hazard control methods to eliminate or reduce them.

There are two primary strategies to permanently or temporarily reduce the risk of injury.

  1. Eliminate or mitigate the hazard.
  2. Eliminate or mitigate exposure to the hazard.

Each of these strategies employs several prioritized methods within the “Hierarchy of Controls.” The rest of this module will discuss the various hazard control methods within the hierarchy.

Hazard Control Strategies

Information obtained from a job hazard analysis is most useful when hazard control measures are developed and incorporated into the job.

A basic hazard control principle is that we must either (1) eliminate the hazard or (2) control exposure to the hazard. The second principle is that it’s more effective to eliminate the hazard than to control exposure to the hazard. These two important principles guide safety and health professionals in constructing a “hierarchy” of hazard control strategies.

ANSI/ASSP Z10-2012, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, encourages employers to use the following hierarchy of hazard controls:

  1. Elimination: Eliminate the hazard if you can. If you can do that, you eliminate exposure at the same time as the risk of an accident.
  2. Substitution: If you can replace a greater hazard with a lesser hazard, you mitigate the risk.
  3. Engineering controls: Design and redesign equipment and machinery to reduce exposure primarily through enclosure, isolation, barriers, and ventilation.
  4. Warnings: Create greater awareness of the hazards through warning signs, placards, cones, alarms, etc.
  5. Administrative controls: Reduce exposure to the hazard through training, policies, procedures, practice, etc.
  6. Personal protective equipment: If we use PPE correctly, it can effectively reduce exposure to hazards.

The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the list are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following the hierarchy leads typically to implementing inherently safer systems, ones where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced.

1. Elimination and Substitution

Elimination and substitution, while most effective at reducing hazards are also the most difficult to implement in an existing process. These strategies are considered first because they can potentially eliminate the hazard, thus significantly reducing the probability of an accident. Redesigning or replacing equipment or machinery may be expensive, but remember, the average direct and indirect cost of a lost-work injury can be more than $50,000 and easily more than $1 million to close a fatality claim.

2. Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are built into the design of a facility, equipment or process to minimize the hazard. Engineering controls are a very reliable way to control worker exposures as long as the controls are appropriately designed, used, and maintained.

If, during the JHA, you discover a hazard that can be engineered out, be sure to do it. One of the essential goals of a JHA is to turn the dangerous step into a safe step that doesn’t require safety precautions. Engineering controls may include:

  • Enclosing the hazard using enclosed cabs, enclosures for noisy equipment, or other means;
  • Isolating the hazard with interlocks, machine guards, blast shields, welding curtains, or other means; and
  • Removing or redirecting the hazard, such as with local exhaust ventilation.

3. Administrative Controls

When elimination, substitution, and engineering control methods are insufficient to protect workers, warnings and administrative controls should be used. If we can’t eliminate the hazard in a JHA step, we’ll need to manage exposure to the hazard with safety precautions. Methods to eliminate or reduce employee exposure to hazards include:

  • placing warning signs, tape, cones, etc., to make workers aware of the hazard within a step
  • developing new policies, procedures, and practices to reduce the frequency/duration of exposure
  • revising work schedules to reduce the frequency/duration of exposure
  • training

4. Personal Protective Equipment

Many procedures developed with a JHA will include the need to use PPE. Examples of PPE include respirators, hearing protection, protective clothing, safety glasses, and hard hats. PPE is acceptable as a control method in the following circumstances:

  • When engineering controls are not feasible or do not eliminate the hazard while engineering controls are being developed.
  • When safe work practices do not provide sufficient additional protection during emergencies when engineering controls may not be feasible.

It’s important to remember that PPE should be used as a last resort in the hierarchy of controls because it is not always effective at reducing exposure to a hazard, may be uncomfortable, and can create additional hazards. In addition, some tasks cannot be accomplished by using PPE alone. For these reasons, it’s best to follow the hierarchy of controls and use PPE as a supplemental control measure. This way, you can ensure that your workers receive the highest level of protection.

In some cases, implementing multiple levels of the hierarchy may be needed to reduce the risks associated with hazards in the workplace. Identifying potential hazards through JHAs is essential in developing a comprehensive safety program. By following the hierarchy of controls and implementing the appropriate measures, you can help protect your workers from harm and create a safe working environment.

If you have any questions or concerns about applying these control methods in your workplace, contact an experienced safety professional for guidance. Knowing how best to use each level of control is essential for creating a safe and healthy work environment.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the hierarchy of controls and how they can be used to reduce risks in your workplace. Implementing these control methods can help ensure workers remain safe and protected from potential hazards.

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