The Hierarchy of Controls

The Hierarchy of Controls.

A hazardous substance splashes onto a chemical plant operator taking a sample. The worker is not seriously injured, and the ensuing investigation focuses on training, personal protective equipment and the particulars of the sampling station.

But did anyone ever ask whether the worker needed to take the sample at all?

Identifying and mitigating exposures to occupational hazards before work begins is the objective of all safety and health professionals.

The hierarchy starts with the controls perceived to be most effective and moves down to those considered least effective. It flows as follows:

Elimination – Physically remove the hazard
Substitution – Replace the hazard
Engineering controls – Isolate people from the hazard
Administrative controls – Change the way people work
Personal protective equipment– Protect the worker with PPE.

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