Control the Hazards | Ergonomics

Risk factors can be controlled either during the development stages of a product or process or after work has begun. In the development stages, very effective controls can be achieved (proactively) for a small investment. Once production has begun, changes can still be implemented (retrofit changes) but usually require modifications to existing equipment. Retrofit changes also require workers to change work patterns. Implementing a change after habits have been formed requires that the need, the objective, the time frame, and the consequences of the change be communicated. One way to ensure this communication is through employee involvement.

After risk factors and their causes have been identified, either in development or after implementation, the next step is to identify control measures that reduce or eliminate the presence of these factors. Traditional classification of control measures distinguishes between engineering controls and administrative controls. Opportunities for both types of controls differ depending on whether the job or process is new or existing.

A three-tier hierarchy of controls is widely accepted as an intervention strategy for controlling workplace hazards, including ergonomic hazards. These procedures should be evaluated when determining how to correct or control your ergonomic hazards:

  • Engineering controls to reduce or eliminate potentially hazardous conditions (e.g., work station, tool, and equipment design or redesign).

  • Administrative controls, usually changes in work practices and management policies (e.g., worker rotation, reduced production demand, and increased rest breaks).

  • Personal protective equipment

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