There are a lot of risks and health hazards in a typical workplace and we would all like to avoid them, but we can’t simply follow one rule to mitigate every risk. Simply educating the workers for every risk or overtly relying on safety equipment for every hazard isn’t going to cut it.

There must be a way to systematically avoid the hazards or mitigate the workers exposure to them to a minimum. This is why the hierarchy of hazard controls was created.

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What is a Hierarchy of Controls

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Hierarchy of hazard control is a framework made to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards.

It teach us that simply focusing on an individual, giving that individual education will rarely -if ever- improve the individuals health. What you really need to consider are all the other factors that may be impacting health, and that’s why the hierarchy of controls is really effective when you’re thinking about workplace health and safety.

so the hierarchy overall is organized so that the most effective changes are changes to the workplace or the work environment and they don’t rely on individual behaviors, so at the top we have

  1. Elimination
  2.  Substitution
  3. Engineering controls
  4. Administrative controls
  5. – Personal protective equipment


when we go to a workplace one of the things we want to do is to reduce hazards and that involves identifying hazards, recognizing what they are, but then also thinking about ways to mitigate those hazards or to reduce exposure to them. So if noises a hazard in your workplace we can think about ways to eliminate that noise.

Having the actual experience of understanding and comprehension of how their frameworks function, the products requirements, being effectively engaged with the everyday business exercises, we can consolidate that indispensable knowledge of installing the products and build up the structure as they have developed it with the idea of improvement of the existing methods, having and simple to install and easy to use systems.

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Perhaps there’s a particular piece of equipment or machinery that’s causing this noise and maybe it doesn’t need to be used so we could substitute a less noisy piece of equipment or an operation that isn’t as noisy.

so for example if we think about enclosed cabs and tractors or other construction equipment. substituting an enclosed cab piece of equipment will reduce the noise level versus an open cab position as well.

Another example is using a height safety certified ladder in order to access the higher locations instead of a normal ladder.

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Engineering controls​

Third tier is an engineering control and so a good example of engineering control would be a ventilation system to remove dust in a work environment. So woodshop or an agricultural work environment where dust is generated you can remove those by using ventilation.

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Administrative controls

This measure is done by applying your Administrative control over the workers to help them avoid hazards

a good example is that of that is like worker rotation. so say you have a task that you’re doing somewhat repetitively in a work environment and the same person doing that task day after day a certain area or anatomical region within the body can cause musculoskeletal strain.

So bringing other workers into that work environment so that you can distribute that exposure across more people is an administrative control. Another would be rest breaks. if you’re working at the computer for an extended period of time make sure you get up and move around so you’re not in the same position for extended periods.

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The final kind of effective method of control is what’s considered the use of personal protective equipment or PPE.

So an example of that would be say you’re in a dusty environment instead of installing a ventilation system, you say okay we’re just going to put a filtering face-respirator on the people who work in this environment. In those examples you’re really relying on the effectiveness of the PPE and also the training that you provide the workers to use the PPE appropriately. A couple of things have to also be included for PPE to work well.

If you’re working in a noisy environment, one of the first things somebody may think of when they think about protecting the worker is to give them hearing protection, and that’s a solution, but it may not be the most effective solution and it’s not effective. 

This is because it relies on the worker wearing the hearing protection and also wearing them properly. A solution that eliminates the source of noise is much more effective in controlling the hazards or protecting our workers.

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In Conclusion

If I want to prevent asthma or control asthma then I have to do more than just to educate the person over their asthma condition. As a hierarchy of control suggests we really need to think about what are the exposures. 

What’s causing that person’s asthma? so we might want to think about the environment of the workplace and the air quality in that environment. We may need to think about the safety of that worksite. Are there exposures to chemicals? and could we substitute those chemicals out for chemicals that may be less caustic or less impactful in the person’s asthma? are there sufficient ventilation and fans in the worksite that will reduce exposures for employees? are there policies in place such as smoking policies, or rather anti-smoking policies.

If there are such policies, are those policies enforced? are the managers following those policies? setting a good example about what should be done. Are our employees provided with respirators and also the support and education to know how to properly use those respirators? so if you don’t consider all of these factors then you’re it’s much less likely that you’re really going to have a safe workplace and also a safe employee.


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