An engineering control is a change that is made to a workstation, tool or piece of equipment in order to eliminate or reduce exposure to a chemical or physical hazard. It may also involve changing the way that a job is done. Examples of engineered controls are self-capping syringe needles, ventilation systems like fume hoods, safety interlocks and sound dampening noise reduction materials.
By getting rid of a hazard at the source, an engineering control puts permanent changes in place that overcome a hazard. They are often the most cost effective way to deal with a potential hazard. Rather than immediately looking at wearing personal protective equipment when performing a job hazard analysis, it is better to consider whether it is possible to put an engineering control in place first.
All employees can be involved in the quest to find an engineered control solution to a potential work-related hazard. Often, workers who are on the job daily have more insight into the intricacies of the work process and can generate ides to make the job safer. They should be encouraged to discuss their ideas with a supervisor, project manager, or the Office HSE Representative. An engineering solution may prove to be both the safest and most cost effective solution.