Considering the prevention principles set out in the Framework Directive and other occupational safety and health standards there are five steps of elimination or minimization of risk at work. They include:
Elimination of hazards in working environment is focusing on removal of the hazards and as a result, making accidents, injuries and worsening of health due to exposure to risk factors impossible.
In other words, elimination means that there is no risk factor present in the environment.
Therefore, no risk factor at work means also that other measures would be redundant in relation to that particular risk, simply because the risk factor would not be existing.
Substitution is replacing. In relation to occupational safety and health at workplace and risk management, this concept is based on such design of work processes which would allow for replacing one risk factor with another that generates lower health risk.
This form of risk control measure is often used in case of chemicals, where one substance is replaced by other one with similar properties, but which is less harmful or not harmful.
Engineering controls should be understood as physical measures limiting the risk. They may be engineering design measures that create structural conditions preventing the hazard to arise by creating barrier between worker and risk factor. The measures may include changes to work processes or working environment: mechanical guards, barriers, curtains, fences, interlocking mechanisms, safety mats, etc.
There is a whole group of devices that alert attention of workers, called “awareness devices”. They include numerous warning lights, buzzers, bells, horns, but also e.g., lines painted on floors, streets, or edges, warning signs, etc.
Into this category may be also classified such measures as e.g., emergency stop buttons. They are often considered as complementary measures, because they cannot prevent injury on their own, but may reduce its severity or decrease probability of ill-health effect.
Administrative controls are also known as organizational measures. They are based on principle of adherence to procedures and given instructions. Administrative controls include:
Training – providing information to worker;
Standard operating Procedures – procedures incorporated at workplace to reduce risk, e.g. drivers performing walk-around their vehicle before driving and reporting any revealed problems;
Safe working procedures – based on instructions on how to safely work with specific equipment or how to safely perform specific hazardous operations;
Authorization – employer may authorize only specific staff to perform particular tasks (e.g. staff who have certain qualifications);
Supervision – this is a very important measure, which may be crucial for successful implementation of other measures.
Speaking about administrative controls is a good moment to mention different forms of information actions. This includes not only training (mentioned before) but also numerous forms of providing instructions, manuals, proper labelling, warnings, signs, warning lights, posters, photographs, drawings, videos – anything that brings informational message to addressee.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
This method of risk control will be explained in more detail in the Unit 2 of Module 2.