Controlling Workplace Hazards
Employees may be exposed to a variety of health hazards every day (e.g. chemical, physical, biological hazards). Controlling workplace risks is the fundamental method of protecting workers health and all steps necessary to protect workers from exposure to health hazards should be taken into consideration. In order to effectively control and manage workplace risks, the first step would be to conduct a proper comprehensive risk assessment which include anticipation, recognition and evaluation of hazards. Once the risks have been adequately assessed, a control strategy can then be introduced according to the “ hierarchy of controls” principle which include:
- Elimination and substitution (e.g. select and use a less toxic chemical)
- Engineering controls (e.g. use dust suppression methods, mechanical ventilation)
- Administrative controls (e.g. safe work practices, SOPs, education and training, good housekeeping, personal hygiene)
- Personal Protective Equipment (e.g. use of respirators, hearing protection, gloves, eye protection, protective clothing)
Note: PPE should be used as a last resort!
The idea behind the hierarchy of controls is that the control methods are designed in order of preference. “For example, in the case of noise exposure, interim control measures might require workers to use hearing protection. Long term, permanent controls might use engineering methods to remove or isolate the noise source”.