Controlling or Eliminating Hazards

Information obtained during a job hazard analysis is is used to incorporate hazard control measures into a task. Cerain hazard controls are more effective than others at reducing the risk. The order of precedence and effectiveness of hazard control is the following:

  1. Engineering controls.
  2. Administrative controls.
  3. Personal protective equipment.

Engineering controls include:

  • Elimination/minimization of the hazard -- Designing the facility, equipment, or process to remove the hazard, or substituting processes, equipment, or materials to reduce the hazard;
  • Enclosure of the hazard using enclosed cabs, enclosures for noisy equipment, or other methods;
  • Isolation of the hazard with interlocks, machine guards, blast shields, welding curtains, or other methods; or
  • Removal or redirection of the hazard such as with local and exhaust ventilation.

Administrative controls include:

  • Written operating procedures, work permits, and safe work practices;
  • Exposure time limitations (used most commonly to control temperature extremes and ergonomic hazards);
  • Monitoring the use of highly hazardous materials;
  • Alarms, signs, and warnings;
  • Buddy system; or
  • Training.

Personal Protective Equipment such as respirators, hearing protection, protective clothing, safety glasses, and hardhats is acceptable as a control method in the following circumstances:

  • When engineering controls are not feasible or do not totally eliminate the hazard;
  • While engineering controls are being developed;
  • When safe work practices do not provide sufficient additional protection; or
  • During emergencies when engineering controls may not be feasible.

After reviewing the list of hazards, consider what control methods will eliminate or reduce them. The most effective controls are engineering controls that physically change a machine or work environment to prevent employee exposure to the hazard. The more reliable or less likely a hazard control can be circumvented, the better. If this is not feasible, administrative controls may be appropriate. This may involve changing how the task is performed.

Discuss your recommendations with all employees who perform the job and consider their responses carefully. If you plan to introduce new or modified job procedures, be sure they understand what they are required to do and the reasons for the changes.