Every business wants to keep their employees safe and healthy. One of the best ways to do that is by implementing a safety program that includes the Hierarchy of Controls. This guide will help you understand what each level of the hierarchy means and how you can use it to prevent workplace injuries in your business.

What is the hierarchy of controls?

The Hierarchy of Controls was first developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States. It has since been adopted by businesses and organisations around the world as an effective way to prevent workplace injuries. It is essentially a framework that businesses can use to identify and implement effective safety measures. The hierarchy is divided into four levels, from most effective to least effective:

1. Elimination: 

This is the most effective way to control a hazard. It involves removing the hazard completely from the workplace. For example, if there is a trip hazard on the floor, you would simply remove it. If you have a machine that is causing injuries, you may even eliminate the hazard by removing the entire machine from the workplace. 

However, this method may not always be possible if removing the hazard will make it so the work is not able to be completed. In that case, you would move to the next step.

2. Substitution, isolation or engineering controls


This involves replacing a hazardous item with a less hazardous item. For example, if you have a cleaning product that contains harmful chemicals, you would substitute it for a safer cleaning product.

Engineering Controls: 

This involves using engineering and design to control hazards. For example, if you have a machine that is causing injuries, you would engineer a safety guard to prevent workers from coming into contact with the hazard. 


This involves separating workers from the hazard. For example, if you have a machine that is causing injuries, you could isolate it from the rest of the workplace by putting it in a separate room to prevent workers from coming into contact with the hazard or you might install barriers or guardrails around it for protection.

3. Administrative Controls: 

This includes developing policies and procedures to make sure employees are following safety protocols. For example, you might have a policy that requires employees to wear protective gear when they are working with dangerous chemicals. This also involves using signs to warn people of hazards and monitoring employees to ensure they are following procedures.

4. Personal Protective Equipment: 

This is the least effective way to control a hazard. It involves using personal protective equipment, such as gloves or goggles, to protect workers from hazards. Personal protective equipment should only be used when other methods of hazard control are not feasible.

How to Apply the Hierarchy of Controls:

If elimination is not possible, consider which option, or combination of options, most effectively reduce the risk. By implementing the hierarchy in your business, you can make sure that your employees are safe and healthy. And that’s good for everyone.

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