What is the Hierarchy of Control?

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Hierarchy of Control

Hierarchy of control is a term used in management to refer to control procedures. In workplace safety, the term is a safety jargon used with respect to systems in safety management. The word hierarchy basically refers to a list. This list usually comprises things that are related or have some commonality as well as order. They may range from big to tiny, useful to not useful at all. Therefore, hierarchy of control is basically a list of the different types of controls within an organization that range from very good to not useful. A hierarchy of control helps in developing a systematic way of managing safety at the workplace. It does so by making available a structure that allows people to select the most workable control measures to reduce or eliminate risk posed by various identified hazards.

How Hierarchy of Control Work

A hierarchy of control generally has 6 levels. At the very top level is the best measure while the least effective measure is placed at the bottom. Basically, the idea is to start at the top and moving downwards as you select the control measures. There are six steps involved in selecting hierarchy control measures. The first is elimination, which basically involves doing away with the source of risk completely. The other step involves substitution where a hazard is replaced with a less risky mode of achieving a similar outcome. The isolation step involves separating a hazard from persons who are at risk. The engineering step is concerned with use of engineering controls such as physical changes to reduce risk. The other step in hierarchy of control involves taking administrative measures to reduce risk. Such measures include rotating jobs and installing signs at the workplace. The last step involves measures that employees can undertake to protect themselves. In involves personal protective equipment where workers are required to wear equipment such as earplugs, iridescent vests, and gloves.