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Do you run a factory? Use these eight engineering controls to reduce health and safety risks and comply with the OHS Act

by , 02 March 2015
If you run a factory, one of the measures you can implement to reduce risks after your risk assessment is engineering controls.

Engineering controls involve making changes when it comes to equipment, ventilation systems, and processes to reduce risks. For example, using machines to eliminate human error and exposure.

These are your first line of defence against risks that could harm your employees' health. And they help you make sure your risk management plans are in line with the requirements of the OHS Act.

But what kind of engineering controls are available?

Here are eight you can use to reduce health and safety risks in your workplace so you comply with the OHS Act.

Before we get to the tips, take a look at what engineering controls really are

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, engineering controls are methods built into the design of a plant, equipment or process to minimise the hazard.
The basic types of engineering controls include:
  • Process controls – changing how your employees do a job or process to reduce the health and safety risk.
  • Enclosure and/or isolation of emission source – keeping the chemical 'in' and the worker 'out' (or vice versa). For example, storing a dangerous chemical in an area with ventilation. And telling your employee to work with the chemical by using built in gloves.
  • Ventilation – This is a method of control that strategically 'adds' and 'removes' air in the work environment. This way, you remove or dilute an air contaminant.
Now take a look below at the eight engineering controls you can implement.

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Eight engineering controls you can implement to reduce health and safety risks in your factory

The Health & Safety Advisor recommends you use these engineering controls to reduce risks:
#1: Conduct a hazard and risk review before you buy any equipment to prevent introducing unnecessary risks to your business.
#2: Mechanise the process to reduce human input and exposure.
For example, if you work with wood in your factory, use machines to cut wood instead of your employees using dangerous chain saws and hurting themselves.
#3: Use machinery that has built-in automatic stop options when a malfunction occurs.
If, for example, your employee's hand gets stuck, the machine will stop before he suffers more harm.
#4: Isolate equipment by storing the machine in an operating cabinet or in an area not many people have access to.
#5: Enclose all moving parts to prevent accidental entrapment when employees use the machine.
#6: Do regular maintenance on your machines.
Don't only do maintenance when machines breakdown. Be proactive and do preventive maintenance so the machines your employees use don't put in danger them.
#7: Always install your equipment and machines according to the manufacturer's instructions. This will help keep your employees safe.
#8: Provide ways to physically lock out machinery when no one's using it or when it's going through maintenance so it doesn't accidentally switch on and harm employees.
These engineering controls will help you reduce health and safety risks in your factory so you comply with the OHS Act.
Bear in mind that the engineering controls you implement depend on the type of work you do in your factory. That's why it's crucial you conduct a thorough risk assessment so you can implement the most suitable controls to reduce risks.
PS: For more information on risk assessment, check out Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.

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