Hierarchy of Control
You will need to introduce preventative and protective measures to control the risks you have identified by your risk assessment. Further guidance on carrying out risk assessments can be found by clicking here
To help you to identify the best way to control the risk, a ‘hierarchy of control measures’ has been developed. You need to adopt solutions from the top of the hierarchy before considering those lower down. The hierarchy begins with ‘elimination’, as eliminating the risk altogether will always be preferable to risk reduction.
1. Elimination – if possible, avoid the risk altogether- For example do the work in a different way, taking care not to introduce new hazards; use mechanical pile cropping techniques to avoid piling;
2. Substitution - you could substitute a dangerous product or tool for one, which is less dangerous.
3. Control the risk at source - For example using manual handling aids when lifting heavy objects; fitting local exhaust ventilation to dusty processes; mechanising the process so the person is separated from the hazard; changing the system of work to one which involves less manual handling
4. Education and Training – ensure that workers and others understand the risk and know what they must do, for example by giving toolbox talks on health issues, or running through the method statement during induction training.
5. Personal Protective Equipment – this should only be used as a last resort as it is the least reliable form of protection. Where PPE is provided, it should be made available free of charge; suitable for the individual; provided with suitable storage and cleaning arrangements and regularly checked to make sure it is in good condition.
You should always give priority to those measures which protect the whole of the workplace and everyone who works there, i.e. give collective protective measures priority over individual protection). Some control measures, such as choosing a safer alternative substance, will provide a high degree of control and are reliable. Physical safeguards such as enclosing a hazardous process or providing local exhaust ventilation will need to be checked and maintained, and this imposes a longer-term cost.
You should develop a coherent approach to your risk reduction programme which will progressively reduce those risks which cannot be eliminated. Where necessary, you should adopt a mix of the above protective measures in order to provide the best protection.
Managing Risk Control Systems:
The purpose of a ‘risk control system’ is to make sure that work place precautions are implemented and kept in place. The greater the hazard or risk, the more robust and reliable the control system should be.
You will need to decide what control systems are necessary. Further advice on managing risk control systems can be found in the HSE publication HSG 65- Successful health and safety management, available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO100 6FS, Tel. 01787 881165.