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Hierarchy Of Hazard Controls When Making Recommendations

Hierarchy Of Hazard Controls When Making Recommendations For Corrective Actions And System Improvements

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Safety professionals recognize several primary control strategies to eliminate or reduce health hazards and employee exposure to those hazards. These basic control strategies are further organized into a “Hierarchy of Controls.” ANSI/ASSP Z10-2012, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, encourages employers to use the following hierarchy of hazard controls when making recommendations for corrective actions and system improvements:

Hazard Control Strategies

The first three strategies attempt to control hazards and the bottom three strategies try to change exposure to hazards. Controlling hazards is always preferred to controlling behavior, and that’s why these strategies are at the top of the hierarchy.

  1. Elimination – removes the source of the hazard. This strategy totally eliminates the hazard from the workplace.
  2. Substitution – reduces the hazard. This strategy should be used if it is not feasible to eliminate the hazard. The idea is to replace the hazard with a less hazardous substitute.
  3. Engineering controls – isolate the hazard through design. This strategy involves the design or redesign of tools, equipment, machinery and facilities so that hazardous chemicals are not needed or that exposure to those hazardous chemicals are not possible. Examples include enclosing work processes or installing local ventilation systems.
Hazard Controls

Exposure Control Strategies

These strategies attempt to control employee behaviors to eliminate or reduce exposure to existing health hazards when hazard controls are not adequate. Naturally it’s more difficult to control behaviors than hazards because we’re dealing with human behavior.

  1. Warnings – raise awareness through by using signs, alarms, signals, labels, placards, cones, and other methods. For example, a warning sign might be used to keep workers from entering a confined space.
  2. Administrative/work practice controls – eliminate/reduce exposure to hazards. This strategy helps to reduce exposure by developing and implementing effective training, policies, processes, procedures, practices and safety rules. This strategy really gets to the root causes by making recommendations to improve system weaknesses.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – eliminates/reduces exposure through personal barriers. This strategy is generally used in conjunction with the other strategies to reduce exposure. When effective elimination, substitution and engineering controls are not feasible appropriate PPE such as gloves, safety goggles, helmets, safety shoes, and protective clothing may be required. To be effective, PPE must be individually selected, properly fitted and periodically refitted; conscientiously and properly worn; regularly maintained; and replaced as necessary.

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