The Hierarchy of Hazard Control

The Hierarchy of Hazard Control

16th November 2016

Here at Safety Fabrications we appreciate that our customers work in one of the riskiest industries around – construction.  This means that safety in the workplace is of paramount importance for all of our customers who we supply with access equipment of all types – safety ladders, step units, walkways and fall protection posts.  We make sure that all of our products are manufactured  in accordance with BS EN ISO 3834-2:2005 and BS EN 1090-2:2008 and bears the CE Mark according to the Construction Products Regulations (CPR) in accordance with current EU Regulations.  We strive to bring our readers the knowledge and information necessary to keep up to date with safety in the workplace and to provide no-nonsense explanations of some of the organisations, procedures, processes and terminology that’s commonly used within the construction sector.  Today, we’re going to take a look at the Hierarchy of Hazard Control, which is a widely accepted system used in industry to minimise or eliminate exposure to hazards.

The Hierarchy of Hazard Control is widely accepted by organisations around the world and taught to managers in industry to be promoted as standard practice within the workplace.  The most common illustration used to depict the system is a triangle with the most effective means at the top and the least effective at the bottom of the triangle. 

The hazard controls in the hierarchy are, in order of decreasing effectiveness:

·         Elimination – redesign the job or substitute a substance so that the hazard is eliminated or removed.

·         Substitution – use something else, replace the material or the process with a less hazardous one.

·         Engineering Controls – isolation and guarding.  For example, you could use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls when working at height is unavoidable.  Install and use additional machinery to control risks from dust or fumes or to separate the hazard from the operator by enclosing or guarding dangerous items of machinery or equipment.  These measures should be a priority as they are a collective method of protection, rather than an individual method of protection.

·         Administrative Controls – training and work scheduling.  This is all about identifying and implementing the procedures necessary in order to work safely.  For example, minimising the time that workers are exposed to hazards (by job rotation, for instance), prohibiting the use of mobile phones in hazardous areas, performing risk assessments or even increasing the safety signage.

·         Personal Protective Equipment – this should be the last resort and only considered when all other measures have been tried and found ineffective in controlling the risks to a reasonably practicable level.  For example, if the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated the work equipment or other measures should be used to minimise the distance and consequences of any potential fall.  If PPE is chosen, then the equipment should always be selected and fitted by the person who is to use the equipment.  Workers using PPE must be trained in the function and limitation of each item.