What Does Control Mean?
A control, in terms of occupational health and safety, is a type of intervention used to manage, direct, or mitigate a workplace hazard. Controls can also be applied to a process which could potentially create or result in a workplace hazard.
OSHA categorizes safety controls into five groups in order of decreasing effectiveness:
- Implementation of engineering controls
- Implementation of administrative controls
- Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
OSHA guidance recommends the use of controls to systematically mitigate workplace hazards. The most effective form of hazard controls are engineering controls, which either prevent a hazard from being created, separate workers from a hazard, or remove a hazard from the work area.
Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered the least effective of all available forms of control because PPE does not control the hazard until the worker’s immediate proximity and has a greater chance of failure due to human error. PPE is prescribed where exposure to a workplace hazard cannot otherwise be avoided.