The hierarchy of control in safety is one of the best ways to determine which control measures will be more effective to control workplace hazards. There are five steps to follow to control workplace hazards as per the hierarchy of control in safety.
What is the Hierarchy of Control in Safety?
The hierarchy of control in safety is one of the best ways to determine which control measures will be more effective to control workplace hazards. There are five steps to follow to control workplace hazards as per the hierarchy of control in safety. It starts with the most effective control measures and ends up with the least effective control measures. That’s why both employers and employees should know and follow the hierarchy of control measures to mitigate workplace hazards.
Hierarchy of Control Example: 5 Steps to Control Workplace Hazards
There are five steps to follow to control workplace hazards as per the hierarchy of control in safety. These five steps with the hierarchy of control example will be as below:
- Elimination– Physically remove the hazards from the workplace.
- Substitution– Replace more hazardous items with one.
- Engineering Controls.
- Administrative Controls.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Hazard elimination is a hard control strategy based on completely removing a material or process that is causing a hazard.
Hazard elimination is the most effective control in protecting workers from being injured, protecting property from being damaged, and protecting the environment from being polluted. The hierarchy of control in safety is the top and first most effective controls that need to be considered first to implement to avoid unwanted accidents and incidents at the workplace while performing a job in the workplace.
Hazard elimination is easy to implement and it may be inexpensive at the beginning of plant design and process while it will be quite tough to implement for the existing process when a major change in plant, equipment, and procedure will be required.
For example; Eliminate manual load lifting by using mechanical tools and equipment to lift a load, Eliminate the falling hazard by performing a job on the ground instead of elevated, etc.
Substitution of hazard is a hazard control method in which hazardous materials and processes are replaced with less hazardous ones. Hazard substitution is the second most effective method of hazard control in the workplace. It will be more effective if it will apply early in the plant design and process.
Substitution of hazard can not involve only replacing one chemical with another, but also using the same chemicals in less hazardous forms.
For example; Substitute the hazard by using less hazardous chemicals instead of more hazardous chemicals, Substitute the hazard by using low voltage hand tools instead of higher voltage hand tools, etc.
Engineering control is the third step of the hierarchy of control in safety that designs the workplace and tools to protect workers and materials from hazardous conditions.
Engineering controls physically change the design of equipment or workplace to isolate the workers from hazardous conditions. Engineering control generally works like a barrier between hazards and workers which is essential to protect the workers from being injured in the workplace.
For example; providing a guardrail system at an elevated workplace, providing cover on rotating parts of machinery, dead-men switch on hand-held power tools, proper handle on hand-held power tools, etc.
Administrative controls generally refer to safety training, the procedure of work, and safety policy in an organization. Workers will get training to be competent to complete their job safely in the workplace.
The organization will define a safe procedure of work and that procedure shall be communicated among all task operatives moreover. Organizations will set a health, safety, and environment policy to promote a safety culture in the workplace because by doing so, the morale of workers will be increased, and the number of workplace accidents will be reduced. Administrative controls generally change the behavior of workers rather than eliminating or removing workplace hazards.
Administrative controls are more effective than PPEs because they involve some manner before planning and commencement of work, whereas PPEs are just a barrier between hazards and their wearer.
Examples; Safety training for workers, setting-up HSE policy, introducing safe procedures of work, limiting access to the hazardous area, welfare facilities for workers in the workplace and accommodation, conducting TBT meetings before the start of shift work, etc.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the equipment used to protect its wearer from injury and illness in the workplace. It is just a barrier between hazards and its wearer, PPE is designed for the protection of individuals not for the collective.
All employers have a legal responsibility to provide correct PPEs to their employees to protect them from being injured or ill health. Employees are also responsible to take care of the PPEs provided by the employer and wear them properly while performing the job in the workplace.
There are two main categories of PPEs as per the nature of workplace hazards:
Non-respiratory PPEs are being used for the protection of workers against injury from outside the body such as;
- Safety helmet for the protection of the head
- Hand gloves for the hand protection
- Safety goggles for eye protection
- Safety shoes for leg protection
- Earplug/muff for hearing protection
- Full body harness to protect the workers from falling from height etc.
Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is a particular type of PPEs used to protect its wearer against inhalation of hazardous substances in the workplace such as;
- SCBA (self-breathing apparatus)
- Welding mask
- Dust mask etc.
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