The definition of control can be described as the ability or power to influence and/or direct people’s behavior and events taking place. Hazard control is very similar, it is all about controlling the hazard so the hazard is either eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. The practice of hazard control is evident in many different areas of life. For instance, consider the hazard control on a common house fan. Many fans utilize the assistance of a gridded cover to eliminate the risk of someone becoming injured by the blades on the fan. The gridded cover serves as an engineering safety control since the fan was engineered with the cover as an integral part in the fan’s design. Nearly every fan on the market which uses blades to create airflow is equipped with a cover for protection. Needless to say, if you think about it, there are hazard controls almost everywhere.
Three Main Types of Hazard Controls
Hazard controls can typically be divided up into three different distinct categories: engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment controls. Let’s describe each section a little more in depth.
Engineering controls are controls that are actually built into a job or work environment to actually eliminate or greatly reduce a hazard. Engineering controls involve designing equipment or processes to eliminate the hazard, this may involve either enclosing a hazard, putting up guards near a hazard, or simply doing a job differently to avoid encounters with a specific hazard.
In the workplace, the best option for hazard control is the utilization of engineering controls. Engineering controls effectively remove or minimize hazards, thus eliminating or reducing the exposure to employees. Well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and are typically independent of worker interaction, which reduces the potential of malfunction due to improper use.
Jason Townsell - EHSToday.com
Administrative controls are quite different than engineering controls. Administrative controls focus mainly on different policies and safety procedures that employees must follow in order to stay safe. Administrative controls are not as effective as engineering controls because it is up to the actual employee to follow the safety policies and procedures, in other words safety is not automatically built in. Administrative controls change the way the work is actually being done; this includes things like training, maintenance, housekeeping, etc.
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Personal protective equipment is actually one of the least effective methods of controlling safety when compared to engineering and administrative controls. Personal protective equipment provides a barrier between the employee and specific hazard. However, this should never be used as the primary form of defense against a hazard, but more as safety net just in case an accident was to happen.
Hazard controls enhance safety in the workplace as well as in simply daily life. Next time you have a chance to take a stroll around your work facility, take the time to recognize the different types of hazard controls in place to ensure worker’s safety.
Resource: Jason Townsell –EHS Today 24. March 2011