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Hierarchy of Control is a type of ‘flow chart’ process that is used to control risks. The risk can be any chemical, substance or system of work.
Hierarchy of Control is a priority order of what you need to do to control risks. This process applies to many health and safety issues but now we will look in relation to a hazardous substance.
First, we will first look at Elimination. This means does it have to be used at all? For example, with chemicals do we need to use this substance. Is there a safer one that we can use that does the same job? Maybe there is a different form that could be safer, like using granular rather than powders to eliminate inhalation of dust, or a chemical that is used in a safer manor.
Next on the list is Reduction. Or how much of the substance is actually needed to carry out the job. Often too much of a substance is used, maybe rather than measuring it correctly, it is just poured out of the container. The control measure may be to change the delivery method or container to use the correct amount and avoid spillage. A reduction in workplace exposures limits can be achieved by restricting the time someone is exposed to the substance by changes in workplace practices.
The next control measure is to Enclose the substance. Here we look at putting as few people at risk as possible by reducing access to the area that the chemical is being used. It can be by changing the areas that people can move therefore avoiding any risks from the substance.
Next is to Engineer. Machines can reduce risk to humans and it maybe that rather than actually handling a substance, this is done by a machine. It could also be to change the way drums are filled from manual to automatic or using machines or systems to fill from inside so the substance is always enclosed in the container.
Finally, in the Hierarchy of Control is Personal Protective Equipment PPE. Sometimes PPE is mistakenly used as the first in the list as the easy option but it is really the last on the list but often PPE is the only effective means of control. Where PPE is used it must be sufficient and adequate to protect the person whenever they work with the substance.
COSHH regulations require employees to use and follow all control measures put in to place by employers. If they find any problems, they must report them to a manager.