Safetip #73: Hierarchy of Controls & Worker Well-Being

April 05, 2017

This week’s Safetip is about applying the Hierarchy of Controls to NIOSH’s Total Worker Health approach, and including controls and strategies that advance worker well-being.

NIOSH’s Total Worker Health Program

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been advocating for the integration of occupational safety and health protection with workplace efforts to promote . These efforts led to NIOSH’s Total Worker Health program.

A Total Worker Health (TWH) approach is defined as policies, programs and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness–prevention efforts to advance . A TWH approach brings together all aspects of work in integrated interventions that collectively address worker safety, health and well-being.

Hierarchy of Controls Applied to NIOSH Total Worker Health

A Hierarchy of Controls is used to determine the most feasible and effective solutions that can control exposures to occupational hazards, in order to protect workers. The control methods range from the most effective at the top to the least effective at the bottom. By following this hierarchy, organizations can implement safer working conditions where the risk of incidents is reduced.

Hierarchy of Controls

Applying the Hierarchy of Controls to NIOSH’s Total Worker Health approach helps to prioritize efforts to advance worker safety, health and well-being. Just like the traditional Hierarchy of Controls, controls and strategies are presented in descending order of effectiveness and protectiveness. Applying the Hierarchy of Controls to Total Worker Health expands the traditional hierarchy from occupational safety and health to worker well-being, NIOSH says. The Hierarchy of Controls applied to NIOSH Total Worker Health is not meant to replace the traditional Hierarchy of Controls. Rather, they are both used together.

Hierarchy of Controls NIOSH TWH

The model is applied through the following steps:

1) Eliminating conditions that cause or contribute to worker illness and injury or negatively impact well-being. These include factors related to supervision throughout the management chain.

2) Replacing unsafe, unhealthy working conditions or practices with safer, health-enhancing policies, programs and management practices that improve the culture of safety and health.

3) Redesigning the work environment for safety, health and well-being. Removing obstacles to well-being, enhancing employer-sponsored benefits and providing flexible work schedules.

4) Providing safety and health education and resources to enhance individual knowledge for all workers.

5) Encouraging personal change for improvements to health, safety and well-being. Assisting workers with individual risks and challenges; providing support for healthier choices.

Check out NIOSH’s Fundamentals of Total Worker Health Approaches document to learn more.

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