Hierarchy of Control Measures
Control measures are actions which, when carried out, can help reduce the risk of a hazard causing an accident in the workplace. They can be determined by drawing up a risk assessment so that it is easier to recognise what is already being done to reduce the risk, and comprehend what other courses of action can be carried out to reduce it further.
Control measures may not always in the form of physical equipment, but also in the form of instructions for employees to abide by, such as checking a machine is properly wired and set up before using it, or knowing what to do in the case of a fire. Each control measure should be clearly linked to the hazards they are designed to control, and the actual construction of the control measure must suit the means of the facility or workplace. There are methods of reducing a hazard:
1. Elimination: Elimination of a specific hazard or hazardous work process is the most effective method of control.It is easier to eliminate hazards while a work process is still in the development stages.Take purchasing machines for example. Machines that are not produced with the proper guards on them may cost less to purchase, but cost more in terms of accidents and compensation. By spending a bit more on a machine that has the correct guards eliminates the risk of an accident due to malfunction.
2. Substitution: Sometimes eliminating a hazard isn’t possible. An example of this is breakable glass panes – you can’t just get rid of the window panes to eliminate the problem. Instead, the window panes could be replaced with safety glass.
3. Engineering Controls: Engineering controls consist of redesigning equipment, tools, work organization and workplaces to reduce employees’ exposures to factors that can cause harm to them. The basic types are process control, enclosure and isolation, and ventilation. Process control involves changing the way a job activity or process is done to reduce the risk. Enclosure and isolation methods aim to protect employees from chemical harm by keeping them in ventilated, enclosed spaces that are separate from all other tools and equipment.
4. Administrative Controls: Administrative controls limits the duration of working time of the workers at a hazardous place. This can include giving employees longer rest periods or shorter work shifts to reduce exposure time, regular inspection of all tools and machinery before each use, and providing employees with training – anything from a short discussion about emergency procedures, to a longer session about the operation of a complex piece of machinery.
5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): PPE is the least effective type of control measure, and is therefore used as a last resort when other methods cannot control hazards sufficiently. The employer is expected to provide employees with the correct PPE for any work procedures they may have to do, and educate them on the use, storing, cleaning and replacement of each type. Employees are then responsible to wear the provided PPE when it is required.
Lots of other control measures can be taken into perspective to prevent accidents, such as keeping the workplace clean and tidy, and washing your hands after having contact with chemicals. These measures can help prevent accidents from happening in the workplace, and as a result make the work area a much safer place to work in.