How Make Your Workplace a Safer Place

To ensure the safest possible work environment, you must adhere to the hierarchy of safety rules. This hierarchy is made up of five fundamental strategies. These are, in order of effectiveness:

  1. Elimination—remove the hazard physically
  2. Substitution— hazard replacement 
  3. Engineering controls—isolate people from the hazard
  4. Administrative controls—modify how people operate 
  5. Administrative controls—modify how people operate 

While the majority of those involved in safety are aware of this hierarchy, it is frequently overlooked during day-to-day safety talks and decisions.

Each year, workplace injuries cost businesses billions of dollars in worker’s compensation, not to mention the incalculable damage to an individual’s quality of life. Safety must be a precondition for any business, which includes ingraining the hierarchy of safety measures into your consciousness.

A logical and rigors approach to workplace safety will always begin at the top of the hierarchy and work its way down as solutions are considered. The objective is to take the most effective steps possible to decrease or eliminate injuries, rather than automatically reverting to simpler, less effective solutions further down—at least not until it is absolutely certain that higher-level activities cannot be accomplished.

Elimination should always be the first step towards a safer environment, therefore let’s take a closer look at this critical technique.

#1: Elimination

When identifying a hazard, urge yourself to consider first whether the hazard can be entirely eradicated. It seems self-evident, doesn’t it? However, it’s remarkable how frequently people take hazards for granted, as in “that’s how it is.”

A brand-new tool? A completely new approach? How is it possible to entirely eliminate a hazard?

#2: Substitution

Second in the hierarchy is replacement, or the act of substituting a safer alternative for a hazard.

If employees must handle harmful chemicals, they should undoubtedly wear chemical-resistant gloves—but could less toxic compounds perform the same function?

If workers are already using knives, will retractable box cutters perform equally well in terms of reducing the risk of a cut?

If workers are required to crimp metal components, may improved, powered crimpers help alleviate hand muscle strain?

Could a substitute help to mitigate, if not completely remove, the risk?     

#3 Engineering Controls

Engineering controls, which isolate people from a hazard, are third in the hierarchy. This category comprises a variety of guards designed to keep fingers away from moving gears, blades, grinders, and belts. Even more aggressive engineering controls are possible. Can a machine that is extremely dangerous be caged and shut out so that only properly trained workers have access? Is it possible to completely redesign the machine to make it less risky to the user’s hands? Could you incorporate an emergency stop button that is connected to an electric eye? A trigger grip that must be maintained in order to prevent the machine from shutting off when the worker releases it? Boxes with special handles to protect fingers?

#4 Controls Administrative

Administrative controls are listed fourth in the safety hierarchy.

This is a broad category that includes, but is not limited to, redesigning the task rather than the equipment. Can you rotate employees into line roles to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome? Can you influence how they reach for components? The order in which they perform their duties? Increase the number of breaks to increase concentration?

Additionally, administrative controls may include highly precise warning signs, training programmes, emergency wash stations for chemical exposure, safety checklists, supervisory oversight, and safety inspections, to name a few.

It is erroneous to regard administrative measures as a last resort. Why? Because no matter how many other controls you implement, they will never be completely “automated”; a dangerous workplace will always require administrative controls.

#5 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protection equipment is at the bottom of the hierarchy (PPE).

Why are gloves, sleeves, hard helmets, aprons, and seat belts listed last? Shouldn’t individuals always use personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing dangerous work? To be honest, yes and no.

PPE cannot guard against a wide variety of threats, and it is ultimately the last line of defence against a cut, a burn, a chemical exposure, an impact, vibration, a germ exposure, or a crash.

PPE is the final line of defence when all other lines of defence have failed.

Regrettably, it’s all too easy to overlook PPE’s position at the bottom of the hierarchy. Getting people to wear PPE should never obstruct your exploration of all higher-level safety actions. Far too frequently, managers begin by thinking, “We need better PPE,” rather than “How can we completely eliminate this hazard?”

Having said that, it’s crucial to remember another aspect of PPE: You can follow all of the other levels of the safety hierarchy and still forget a critical ingredient. Indeed, given the universe’s unpredictability, you will always miss a vital component. When the unexpected occurs, personal protective equipment (PPE) may be the only thing that saves a worker’s hand, leg, or life—and it frequently is.


As useful as the safety hierarchy is, it may create the erroneous impression that you should focus exclusively on the top level while ignoring lower levels. In truth, you want to employ all possible safeguards.

Almost always, you will need to utilise numerous levels of the hierarchy concurrently. Being responsible for the safety of others is a fundamental obligation that cannot be taken lightly.

Avoid the temptation to move to lower levels of the hierarchy or to focus exclusively on certain levels, even if this appears to be the simplest approach. Only through a comprehensive approach that incorporates removal, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) will you be able to establish the safest work environment imaginable.

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