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Follow this hierarchy when implementing health and safety risk controls - here's a practical example that shows you how

by , 13 February 2015
Earlier this week, we revealed the hierarchy you need to follow when implementing risk controls in your business.

We made it clear that if you don't follow it, the health and safety risk controls you implement might not protect your employees effectively. And you'll be at risk of DoL fines.

Today, we're giving you a practical example that shows how you need to go about following this hierarchy. This way, your risk management efforts succeed.

Look at the example below...

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Take this quick quiz to find out if you can handle the DoL hot seat
  • Which risk assessments have to be checked by an approved inspector every two years?
  • Is it absolutely necessary for your company to appoint and train someone as a risk assessor?
  • When was the last time you did a risk assessment? (Is that too long?)
  • Have you checked and double checked the less obvious health hazards?

If you can't answer even one of these questions you're not only putting your employee's lives at risk; you're also putting yourself in danger of massive fine from the DoL.
Don't wait until it's too late.
Learn how to do your risk assessments correctly here.

This practical example shows you how to stick to this hierarchy when putting health and safety risk controls in place

In the article we explained that when you implement health and safety risk controls, you must:
  1. Eliminate the risk;
  2. Change your process or some part of it to reduce risks;
  3. Use engineering controls;
  4. Have signage and administrative controls in place; and
  5. Use Personal Protective Equipment.
Now that's all good and well, but how does it work?
To show you that, here's an example of how you'd put these health and safety risk controls into action in this order.
Let's say the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) conducts a risks assessment on Witkoppen Road following complaints by road users who've had accidents.
During the risk assessment, one of the problems it finds is that there's a large pothole on the road that poses a risk to road users.
To deal with this hazard, the JRA can do the following:
1. Repair the pothole, which will completely remove the hazard (elimination).
2. Ask road users to use an alternative route until it repairs the pothole (substitution).
3. Put a barrier around the pothole to protect road users until it repairs the pothole (engineering controls).
4. Put signage up to warn road users about the large pothole so they're aware of it.
According to pathsforall.org.uk, another administrative control the JRA can use to deal with the pothole is to 'have a maintenance schedule and inspection system in place to inspect the road regularly.' This way, the JRA can spot potholes sooner and repair them before they cause accidents (Administration controls).
5. While this is unrealistic, it gives you a general idea: It can ask road users to wear knee and elbow pads as well as strong shoes until it provides a more effective measure. Or it can ask motorists to use big cars with stronger tires (Personal Protective Equipment).
We'll remind you of this once again, when implementing health and safety risk controls, 'the idea is you start from the top of the hierarchy and work your way down. In some cases, you must use a combination of control measures to effectively reduce the risk the hazard poses.'
Now that you have the know-how, implement health and safety risk controls in this hierarchy so you can protect your employees effectively.
PS: For more information on risk assessments, check out Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.

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