What Is the Hierarchy of Controls?

The Hierarchy of Controls is a ranking system that helps employers and safety professionals determine the most effective safety measures to protect employees from workplace hazards. This system has been around since the early 1900s and is still widely used today.

The Hierarchy of Controls consists of five stages, each with its own level of effectiveness. These stages are Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls, Personal Protective Equipment, Work Practices, and Warnings.

Engineering Controls are the most effective type of safety control. These are physical changes to the workplace such as guardrails, enclosures, and automated systems that reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous materials. Engineering Controls are typically used when other safety measures are not effective.

Administrative Controls are procedures and policies that are implemented to reduce the risk of injury or illness. Examples of Administrative Controls include job hazard analysis, training programs, and safety inspections.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn by employees to protect them from workplace hazards. This includes items such as protective clothing, respirators, and safety glasses. PPE is used when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or effective.

Work Practices are safety procedures that employees must follow when performing their job tasks. These safety procedures ensure that tasks are performed safely. Examples of Work Practices include lockout/tagout procedures, machine guarding, and safe lifting techniques.

Warnings are the final stage of the Hierarchy of Controls. These are used to alert employees to potential hazards or dangers. Examples of Warnings include warning signs, labels, and alarm systems.

The Hierarchy of Controls is an important system for preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. It provides a framework for employers and safety professionals to determine the most effective safety solutions for each workplace hazard. By following the five stages of the Hierarchy of Controls, organizations can ensure that their employees are safe and protected from dangerous workplace hazards.

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