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Administrative Safeguards

What Does Administrative Safeguards Mean?

Administrative safeguards, which may also be called administrative controls, are a type of hazard control that relies on modifying employee behaviour in order to reduce the risk of harm from potential hazards. In other words, administrative safeguards promote employee safety by changing the way that work is done.

The use of administrative safeguards is designed to alter employee behaviour in order to reduce the probability that the employee will come in contact with a particular hazard. Administrative safeguards may be combined with the use of other hazard controls, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to adequately reduce risk to an extent that cannot be achieved through a single approach to hazard control.

Safeopedia Explains Administrative Safeguards

The term “administrative safeguard” tends to be used in lieu of “administrative control” in situations where the safeguard is being used to protect against a physical hazard that cannot be mitigated against solely through the use of physical safeguards.

In other words, the term “administrative safeguard” connotes protection against a specific hazard through the use of a safety policy; for instance, limiting the amount of time that can be spent using a specific high-hazard piece of machinery. In contrast, the term “administrative controls” is used more broadly, and can also refer to general safety promoting behaviours (e.g., housekeeping). Use of “administrative safeguard” is especially common in the context of machine safety.

Hazard safeguards are the fundamental method through which workers are protected against exposure to hazardous equipment and situations. According to the hierarchy of hazard controls, administrative safeguards are the second least-preferred method of hazard control; they are less preferred to engineering/design, substitution, and elimination-based methods of hazard control, but are preferred to the use of personal protective equipment.

Recognized consensus standards that deal with administrative safeguards include CSA Z432-16 – Safeguarding of Machinery, along with many other standards which deal with protection against equipment or substance-related hazards. OSHA groups all administrative approaches to safety under the umbrella category of “administrative and work practise controls”; however, when used in the context of the US healthcare system, the term “administrative safeguards” usually refers to an industry-specific rule designed to protect patient privacy.


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