Hierarchy of control

09 July 2019
Whenever a significant risk to health or safety in the workplace is identified the employer has to take action to control the risk to an acceptable level. There are always alternative courses of action that could be taken. These are identified in legislation and set out in order of preference. They are listed here in the order in which they should be considered
  • eliminate the risk completely by removing the hazard, for example replace a solvent based material with one that is water based.
  • where elimination is not possible or reasonably practicable substitute a hazardous activity or process with one that is less hazardous or use improved equipment or technical solutions that reduces the level of risk.
  • if elimination or substitution is not possible redesign the equipment or work activity to reduce the risks, e.g. arrange for cash handling to be carried out in a secure area or when the premises are closed to the public rather than in front of customers; redesign the layout of the workplace to give better lines of sight and better CCTV coverage.
  • if redesign is not possible it may be reasonably practicable to physically remove exposed people from risk, e.g. help to provide safe transport home for staff working late.
  • put in place controls such as training, safe systems of work and personal protective measures.
  • Finally, make sure that your workers understand the control measures in place, the need for them and how to use them to best effect.
  • When introducing control measures always;
  • give collective protective measures priority over individual measures, i.e. give priority to measures which protect the whole workplace and everyone working there
  • aim to alleviate monotonous work and paced working at a predetermined rate, and increase the control individuals have over work they are responsible for
  • combat risks at source, rather than taking palliative measures. If the floor or steps are slippery, treating or replacing them is better than displaying a warning sign.

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