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Did you know there's a hierarchy you need to follow when implementing health and safety risk controls in your business?

by , 12 February 2015
After you identify risks in your workplace by doing a risk assessment, you must implement risks controls.

Now most employers think they can implement these controls in any way they like.

Big mistake! Your employees could still be in danger.

The OHS Act outlines a specific order you must follow to put risk controls in place. If you don't use this order, not only will you be going against the Act, but your controls might not protect your employees effectively. And the DoL could shut your business down or fine you for putting your employees in danger.

Don't take that chance.

Read on to find out the hierarchy of health and safety risk controls you must apply.


Follow this hierarchy when you implement health and safety risk controls

 
1. Eliminate the risk
 
First prize when it comes to risk management is to get rid of the risk completely.
 
To do this, review the way your employees work. And remove the hazards by implementing changes to the process or activities to completely remove these high risk hazards.
 
2. Change your process or some part of it to reduce risks
 
For example, if you find that the chemical your employees use can cause blindness in the long term, find another just as effective chemical they can work with which carries lesser risk.
 
 
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3. Use engineering controls
 
These are often your first line of defence. Here are some examples of engineering risk controls you can take:
 
  • Mechanise the process to reduce human error and human exposure;
  • Purchase machinery that has built-in automatic stop option if something goes wrong;
  • Isolate equipment by containing the machine in a restricted area or operating cabinet; and
  • Find ways to physically lock out machines when they're not in use so they don't accidentally switch on.
 
4. Have signage and administrative controls in place
 
If, for example, you make a lot of noise in your factory, you'll have to put out a sign that indicates that particular area is noisy.
You can also have other signs to warn everyone about the risks.
 
When it comes to administrative controls, here are some of the things you must do:
 
  • Comply with safety laws that apply to your business;
  • Maintain records (for example, your hazard register, risk assessment for each hazard and details of the control measures you have in place.);
  • Have safe work procedures;
  • Train employees on safe work procedures; and
  • Limit the number of people who are exposed to the most significant risks.
 
5. Use Personal protective equipment (PPE)
 
PPE must be your last resort because it's the least effective way to control risks.
 
For PPE to be effective, you need to make sure it meets certain criteria. You'll find details of these criteria in the Health & Safety Advisor.

 
Always keep this rule in mind when implementing health and safety risk controls

 
'The most effective measure is at the top of the hierarchy and the least effective is at the bottom,' says pathsforall.org.uk.
 
'The idea is that you start from the top of the hierarchy in choosing your control measures and work your way down. In some cases, you must use a combination of control measures from the hierarchy to effectively reduce the risk the hazard poses,' adds the site.
 
Now that you know about this hierarchy, follow it when implementing health and safety risk controls so your employees won't be in danger.

PS: For more information on risk assessments, check out Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.
 


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