What Does Hazard Control Mean?
Hazard controls are methods or procedures intended to protect people from injury, exposure to dangerous substances, and other workplace risks.
Many hazard control practices are standardized and applied across several workplaces or industries. However, the specific controls used on any given worksite will depend on the nature of the work and its associated risks.
It is the responsibility of every employer to identify hazards in workplaces and on jobsites and to implement adequate controls for those hazards.
Safeopedia Explains Hazard Control
Every workplace contains a number of hazards, even in low-risk industries. These hazards include the obvious ones like heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, and slippery surfaces, but also some that are less evident, such as ergonomic risks, hot ambient temperatures, and indoor air quality.
Regardless of the type of hazard, it is an employer's responsibility to use various control methods in order to protect people from harm. For example, if employees are at risk of exposure to toxic fumes, the workspace should be properly ventilated and every worker should be supplied with a respirator,
Hierarchy of Hazard Controls
It is a best practice across all industries to follow the hierarchy of hazard controls to improve the safety of a workplace. This hierarchy orders types of control measures, from the most effective to the least. Employers and safety professionals should first implement the most effective type of controls available to them.
The hierarchy of hazard controls contains the following control categories, in order from most to least effective:
- Elemination of the hazard (e.g. doing tasks at ground level instead of doing them at heights)
- Substitution for a less toxic or harmful substance (e.g. switching to a chemical product that is less corrosive than the one currently in use)
- Engineering controls that modify the equipment or the working environment to reduce the severity of a hazard (e.g. installing ventilation systems in a facility or adding machine guards to prevent workers from getting their hand caught in the equipment's moving parts)
- Administrative controls that change the way in which the work is carried out (e.g. scheduling outdoor work early in the morning to avoid working while the heat risk is at its highest)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) which is provided to workers as a last line of defense against hazards (e.g. hard hats, safety glasses, cut-resistant gloves)
The Role of Employers in Hazard Control
It is the responsibility of employers to ensure the safety of all employees in their organization. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires them to provide a safe working environment, including the provision of any equipment workers may need to work safely.
Since emergencies can occur and it is impossible to account for every single potential hazard, employers can do the following to more effectively control hazards:
- Include workers in the design of the safety program, since they have first-hand knowledge of the hazards they face
- Develop emergency plans to guide workers during emergencies, including an evacuation plan and lockdown procedures
- Routinely review existing controls to ensure that they are effective
- Regularly evaluate control methods in light of new technological developments and advances in workplace safety, and invest in better controls if more effective and cost-effective solutions have become available