Run a Pilot Site to Test Administrative Controls
Administrative Controls in the Hierarchy of Controls
When organizations select measures to control exposure to occupational hazards, they must consider two things: 1) the effectiveness of the control method, and 2) the feasibility.
NIOSH’s hierarchy of controls can be used to assist with the selection of the most effective and feasible measures:
Control methods at the top (elimination, substitution, engineering controls) are more effective and protective than those at the bottom. But they can also be potentially costlier and more difficult to implement.
Elimination and substitution are the most effective methods, but they can also be the most difficult to implement in an existing process. Big changes in equipment and procedures may be needed. Elimination and substitution could be easier and less costly if a process is still at the design or development stage.
Engineering controls prevent contact between the hazard and the worker through changes to a plant, equipment or process. Well-designed engineering controls can provide a high level of protection. Engineering controls can be costly, but they can produce long-term benefits because of their effectiveness.
Administrative controls change the way the work is done through modified schedules and work shifts, policies and other rules. They also include work practices such as operating procedures, training, housekeeping, equipment maintenance, and personal hygiene practices.
Personal Protective Equipment is worn to create a barrier between the worker and the hazard and reduce exposure to chemicals, air contaminants, noise, etc.
Compared to the other three control methods, administrative controls and PPE are much less costly, but they’re also less effective.
Run a Pilot Site
Engineering controls are the most effective measures if it’s impossible to completely eliminate an existing process or to replace it with an entirely different one. However, if engineering controls are not feasible, then consider administrative controls, such as:
- Shorter work shifts in potentially hazardous areas
- Restricted access to some work areas
- Job-rotation schedules
- Safe work procedures
- Housekeeping programs
- Education and training
- Equipment maintenance
Administrative controls don’t remove or reduce the hazard itself. That’s why their effectiveness should be carefully evaluated before making a final decision whether they’re a reliable alternative to engineering controls.
Since administrative controls are less costly to implement compared to the other three more effective methods, consider running a pilot at a single site. Implement the administrative controls at that site before rolling them out to all other sites. Verify if they are providing an adequate level of protection.
If you’re satisfied with the results, then implement the same administrative controls at all your other sites that have the same processes and hazards. If you’re not satisfied, then you can build a case for engineering controls (and the budget required) by using the results of the pilot, and present it to management.
Either you’ll have a strong argument for engineering controls, or you’ll have the assurance that administrative controls would work.
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