Completing a risk assessment is a means to an end, not the end itself. It’s an input, not an output.
If, after conducting a risk assessment, new or improved controls are required, their selection should be determined by the principle of the Hierarchy of Risk Control , i.e. the elimination of hazards where practicable, followed in turn by risk reduction (either by reducing the likelihood of occurrence or potential severity of injury or harm), with the adoption of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a last resort.
Elimination of Hazards
Elimination of hazards involves removing the hazard from the workplace entirely. For example, by changing the process. Eliminating hazards is the most effective way to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the workplace.
Substitution of Hazards
Substitution of hazards involves replacing a hazardous material or process with a less hazardous one. This could include substituting a hazardous chemical with a less hazardous one or replacing a manual process with an automated one.
Engineering controls involve changing the workplace environment that reduces or eliminates the hazard. This could include installing ventilation systems to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals or using guards or shields to protect workers from moving machine parts.
Administrative controls involve implementing procedures and policies that reduce or eliminate the hazard. This could include providing safety training, setting limits on the time a worker can be exposed to hazardous material, or enforcing safety protocols.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Individuals should use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the final step. This includes gloves, goggles, and protective clothing that protect workers from hazardous materials and conditions. You should use PPE in conjunction with other steps of the Hierarchy of Risk Control to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the workplace.
The Hierarchy of Risk Control is an effective tool for reducing workplace injury or illness risk. Employers and employees should use the steps to identify and minimize workplace hazards.