Hazard Control Strategies That Eliminate Or Mitigate Exposure To Hazards

Hazard Control Strategies That Eliminate Or Mitigate Exposure To Hazards

Warnings and Administrative Controls

Warnings are usually audible or visible. Signs, labels, posters, and lights are examples of warnings that alert workers about hazards. The effectiveness of warnings is highly dependent on the quality of training, legibility and visibility, and worker compliance. Warnings may become ineffective if, over time, workers ignore them.

Administrative controls are aimed at reducing employee exposure to hazards that engineering controls fail to eliminate. Administrative controls work by designing safe work practices into job procedures and adjusting work schedules. Ultimately, it is thought that effective administrative controls have the potential to successfully eliminate the human behaviors that result in over 90% of all workplace accidents!

Administrative controls are only as effective as the safety management system policies, plans, programs, processes, procedures, and practices that support them. It’s always better to eliminate the hazard so that you don’t have to rely on management controls that tend to work only if employees behave. Here’s an important principle that reflects this idea:

Any system that relies on human behavior is inherently unreliable.

To make sure administrative controls are effective in the long term, they must be designed from a base of solid hazard analysis and sustained by a supportive safety culture. They then must be accompanied by effective leadership, resources, training, supervision, and appropriate consequences. Remember, administrative controls should be used in conjunction with, and not as a substitute for, more effective or reliable engineering controls.

Safe work practices are considered administrative controls and may be quite specific or general in their applicability. They may be a very important part of a single job procedure or applicable to many jobs in the workplace. Safe work practices include:

  • removing tripping, blocking, and slipping hazards
  • removing accumulated toxic dust on surfaces
  • wetting down surfaces to keep toxic dust out of the air
  • using safe lifting techniques
  • maintaining equipment and tools in good repair
  • using personal protective equipment (PPE)

Other safe work practices apply to specific jobs in the workplace and involve specific procedures for accomplishing a job. To develop safe procedures and associated work practices, conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA). If, during the JHA, you determine that a procedure presents hazards to the worker, you would decide that a training program is needed. We recommend using the JHA as a tool for training your workers in the new procedures. A training program may be essential if your employees are working with highly toxic substances or in dangerous situations.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Using personal protective equipment is a very important safe work practice. It’s important to remember that, like other administrative controls, the use of PPE does not control the hazard itself, but rather it merely controls exposure to the hazard by setting up a barrier between the employee and the hazard. Use of PPE may also be appropriate for controlling hazards while engineering controls are being installed or work practices developed.

PPE Drawbacks

The limitations and drawbacks of safe work practices also apply to PPE. Employees need training in why the PPE is necessary and how to use and maintain it. It also is important to understand that PPE is designed for specific functions and are not suitable in all situations. For example, no one type of glove or apron will protect against all solvents. To pick the appropriate glove or apron, you should refer to recommendations on the safety data sheets of the chemicals you are using.

Your employees need positive reinforcement and fair, consistent enforcement of the rules governing PPE use. Some employees may resist wearing PPE according to the rules, because some PPE is uncomfortable and puts additional stress on employees, making it unpleasant or difficult for them to work safely. This is a significant drawback, particularly where heat stress is already a factor in the work environment. An ill-fitting or improperly selected respirator is particularly hazardous, since respirators are used only where other feasible controls have failed to eliminate a hazard.

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