What are control measures?
Control measures are actions that can be implemented to reduce the potential of exposure to a hazard in the workplace. Control measures can also be taken to remove a potential hazard or to reduce the likelihood of the risk of the exposure to that hazard occurring. For example, a simple control measure would be the secure guarding of moving parts of machinery eliminating the potential for contact.
Eliminating the risk is the best control, however if this is not possible, the risk must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. The hierarchy of control measures and assists duty holders to select the highest control measures to effectively manage and mitigate the potential risk.
The implementation process
The implementation process is a step-by-step approach to manage the workplace risks.
These are the steps to manage risks in the workplace:
- Identify hazards
- Assess risks
- Control risks
- Review control measures
At each step, it’s important to consult with workers and their health and safety representatives. Workers have knowledge, experience and best practices that can help to manage WHS risks.
Risk management should be used for both physical risks and psychological risks in the workplace. Psychological risks are risks to someone’s psychological health (mental health).
The hierarchy of controls
The hierarchy of control measures can be implemented to any risk and must be utilised where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks linked to:
- remote or isolated work
- hazardous atmospheres or chemicals
- hazardous manual tasks
- falls or falling objects
- plant, electrical or construction work
- hearing loss associated with noise
- general diving work
- confined spaces
- naturally occurring asbestos
The hierarchy of control is a system for controlling risks in the workplace and can help managers and supervisors understand and use the hierarchy of control to eliminate or reduce risks at work.
Though, it’s important to use the right controls to eliminate or minimise risks and to protect your employees.
How to implement the hierarchy of controls
The hierarchy of controls is a system that includes the processes of eliminate, substitute, isolate, engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment. When mitigating risk follow the step-by-step process starting with elimination, then substitution and so forth.
The systematic risk approach is outlined as follows:
Elimination of the hazard is not always possible, though it does totally remove the hazard and thereby eliminates the risk of exposure. An example of this would be, that painters and families are no longer exposed to the risk of chronic lead poisoning as water-based paints are the standard requirements for dwellings.
Substituting the hazard may not mitigate all of the hazards associated with the process or activity and may introduce different risks that are harmful to the health and safety, but where safe substitution is possible, it should be applied. For example, in work environments where the less harmful solvents are used, it will then require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include gloves, glasses, masks, respirators, or sperm suits.
Isolating the hazard is conducted by restricting access to plant and equipment or in the case of substances, locking them and restricting access. For example, where fume cupboards can isolate chemical hazards from the workers, or similarly placing noisy equipment in a non-accessible enclosure or room which isolates the hazard from the workers.
Engineering control is the act of redesigning a process to erect barriers between the worker and the hazard or remove the hazard from the worker, such as machinery guarding, proximity guarding, extraction systems or rehousing the operator to a remote location away from the hazard.
Administrative controls include adopting standard operating procedures or safe work practices or providing appropriate training, instruction or information to reduce the potential for harm and/or adverse health effects to workers. Isolation and permits to work procedures are examples of administrative controls including sufficient rostering.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes gloves, glasses, respirators, googles, face shields, earmuffs, ear plugs, aprons, overalls, safety footwear, or dust masks which are designed to reduce exposure to the hazard. PPE is usually seen as ‘the last line of defence’ and is usually used in conjunction with one or more of the other control measures. When selecting PPE, it is important to follow the manufacturers safety instructions when it relates to the use of hazardous equipment, products, substances or material as these vary and provide different types of protection from risk.
Implementing control measures in your workplace
A control measure is an action aimed to eliminate a hazard completely. When the hazard has been identified and can’t be eliminated, the hierarchy of control is the next-best control process that can assist to mitigate the risk of an incident, accident, injury, or near-miss. If you need advice with control measures to support your workplace, talk to Locksafe about their range of tagout/lockout measures to prevent the risk of injury and fatalities. Call them today on (08) 9455 7255 or enquire online.