Hierarchy of Control
The Hierarchy of Control is a list of control measures, in priority order, that can be used to eliminate or minimise exposure to the hazard.
It consists of two levels
Consider elimination before all other options.
1st Priority Elimination of Hazard
Minimisation Options which substantially reduce the risk.
2nd Priority Substitution
3rd Priority Engineering
4th Priority Administration
Last Priority P.P.E.
From “Officewise”, Comcare
Many employers start from the bottom of the list when considering options. Some think that it is cheaper and/or simpler to change worker behaviour or give them some protection against the hazard that to fix the cause of the problem. In the long run this approach costs more in time and money and is less effective.
Options which get rid of the hazard altogether.
The best way to eliminate the risk is to completely remove the hazard.
Replacing a hazardous substance or work practice with a less hazardous one.
The provision of mechanical aids, barriers, machine guarding, ventilation or insulation to isolate a hazard from employees.
Establishing policies, procedures and work practices designed to reduce a worker’s exposure to a risk. It can also include the provision of specific training and supervision.
Covering and protecting a worker’s body from hazards. It can be used as a short-term control measure until a “higher order” control has been provided, or to supplement it.
PPE is a Last Resort!
PPE must be provided and maintained by the employer.
The employer would also have to provide training for workers required to use it, and the employee would have a responsibility to use it properly.
Some examples of PPE are:
states that the principle of the hierarchy
of control must be used in seeking to eliminate or minimise workplace risks, and
that PPE should only be used if it is not reasonably practical to control the
risk by engineering or administrative means.
The use of PPE is part of safe work practices, and it is part of the employee's duty of care to use the PPE if required.
This assumes that the employer has met his/her obligations to:
If these conditions have been met, the employer has both a right - and a duty - to enforce the use of PPE, imposing penalties if necessary.
However, it is important that the requirements - and the penalties - are spelled out clearly, and enforced fairly.
It is not the function of the Health and Safety
Representative to enforce the use of PPE!