Controlling Job Hazards

Information obtained from a job hazard analysis is useless, unless hazard control measures recommended in the analysis are incorporated into the tasks. You should recognize that not all hazard controls are equal. Some are more effective than others at reducing the risk.
After reviewing your list of hazards with the employee, consider what control methods will eliminate or reduce them, such as combining steps or changing the sequence, or whether safety equipment and precautions are needed to reduce the hazards.
The most effective controls are engineering controls that physically change a machine or work environment to prevent employee exposure to the hazard. Consider redesigning the process or equipment, changing tools, adding machine guards, personal protective equipment or ventilation to eliminate or reduce hazardous conditions. The more reliable or less likely a hazard control can be circumvented, the better.
If this is not feasible, administrative controls may be appropriate. This may involve changing how employees do their jobs. Discuss your recommendations with all employees who perform the job and consider their responses carefully. If you plan to introduce new or modified job procedures, be sure they understand what they are required to do and the reasons for the changes. The following information provides the recommended order of precedence and effectiveness for job hazard control.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls include:
  • Hazard elimination/minimization by designing the facility, equipment, or process to remove the hazard, or substituting processes, equipment, materials, or other factors to lessen the hazard;
  • Enclosing the hazard using enclosed cabs, enclosures for noisy equipment, or other means;
  • Isolating the hazard with interlocks, machine guards, blast shields, welding curtains, or other means; and
  • Removing or redirecting the hazard such as with local and exhaust ventilation.

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls include:
  • Written operating procedures, work permits, and safe work practices;
  • Exposure time limitations (used most commonly to control temperature extremes and ergonomic hazards);
  • Monitoring the use of highly hazardous materials;
  • Alarms, signs, and warnings;
  • Job rotation;
  • Buddy system; and
  • Training.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, such as respirators, hearing protection, protective clothing, safety glasses, and hardhats, is acceptable as a control method in the following circumstances:
  • When engineering controls are not feasible or do not totally eliminate the hazard;
  • While engineering controls are being developed;
  • When safe work practices do not provide sufficient additional protection; and
  • During emergencies when engineering controls may not be feasible.
Use of one hazard control method over another higher in the control precedence scale may be appropriate for providing interim protection until the hazard is abated permanently. In reality, if the hazard cannot be eliminated entirely, the adopted control measures will likely be a combination of all three items instituted simultaneously.

Careful Documentation is Essential

If safer and better job steps can be used, list each new step, such as describing a new method for disposing of material. List exactly what the worker needs to know in order to perform the job using a new method. Do not make general statements about the procedure, such as "Be careful." Be as specific as you can in your recommendations.
Go over the recommendations with all employees performing the job. Their ideas about the hazards and proposed recommendations may be valuable. Be sure that they understand what they are required to do and the reasons for the changes in the job procedure.

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