Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, when a hazard has been identified it must be controlled, so as to protect workers and others against harm to their health and safety. To do this you must use the hierarchy of control. Starting from the top, you must attempt to first eliminate the hazard. If this is not possible, then you move onto the next level of control, Substitution. This process must be continued until you have adequately controlled the risk. Obviously, if you can eliminate the hazard, then that is the most desired outcome and no further action is required. However, if you use a lower form of control, such as PPE which is considered the last resort, you must first document why a higher form of control was not able to be implemented.
The reason for the hierarchy is to ensure that the highest level of protection is always used when controlling risks.
The hierarchy of control involves the following steps:
- Elimination – remove the cause of danger completely so that it no longer exists
- Substitution – use a different way to complete the same task
- Isolation – separate the hazard from the workers
- Engineering – using engineering controls such as guard railing or other physical barriers or controls
- Administration – use administrative controls to control the risk such as signs, training and user manuals
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – use safety equipment to help protect against the risk
Note: The use of PPE should be only used as a last resort and only after higher forms of controls have been ruled out. This process must be documented. If there was a workplace incident you may have to rely on this document to prove why a higher form was not used and that you had conducted a comprehensive risk assessment prior to commencing work.
For more information on how to control hazards when working at heights feel free to contact us at any time.