Safety Services


Hierarchy of risk control

Once you have identified the risk there is a standard approach to the order in which precautions must be considered known as a hierarchy of risk control.

The definition of risk is the likelihood of a hazard to cause harm and the severity if it does. The hierarchy of risk control approach will help to ensure that the risks have been reduced to a level which is as low as is reasonably practicable.

By considering precautions in the following order then the most effective measures are considered first and the least effective last. 

Reduce risk by:

1. Elimination

Physically remove the hazard. This could include changing the work process to stop using a toxic chemical, heavy object, or sharp tool. It is the preferred solution to protect workers because no exposure can occur.

2. Substitution

Substitution is using a safer alternative to the source of the hazard, replacing the hazard. An example is using plant-based printing inks as a substitute for solvent-based inks.

3. Engineering controls

Engineering controls isolate people from coming into the hazard. Engineering controls can include modifying equipment or the workspace, using protective barriers, ventilation, and more. 

4. Administrative controls

Administrative controls change the way people work. They establish work practices that reduce the duration, frequency, or intensity of exposure to hazards. This could include:

  • Work process training.
  • Job rotation.
  • Ensuring adequate rest breaks.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is protecting the worker from the equipment.  PPE can reduce exposure to risk but it is considered last because it only protects the wearer.  Personal protective equipment must always be used with other control measures and should be worn correctly and fitted properly.

Last updated: Thursday, March 2, 2023