Risk control is the process by which the risks associated with each of the hazards present in the workplace are controlled.
|AimThe primary aim of risk control is to eliminate the hazard giving rise to the risk(s), thereby eliminating the risk(s). Where this is not possible, risk control seeks to minimise risks by modifying or controlling the hazard and/or the associated work systems.|
The risk control process starts by considering the highest ranked risks, working down to the least significant. However, this does not mean that lower priority risks which can be controlled quickly and easily should not be controlled simultaneously. The best available control measures should be put in place as soon as possible for all risks.
Each risk should be examined having regard to the “hierarchy of controls”. This provides a method of systematically evaluating each risk to determine, firstly, if the causal hazard can be eliminated, and otherwise to find the most effective control method for each risk.
Hierarchy of controls
|Eliminate the hazard.Substitute with a lesser hazard.Modify the work system or process.
Isolate the hazard.
Use engineering controls.
Use back-up controls (personal protective equipment and administrative controls).
In many cases, it will be necessary to use more than one control method. Back-up controls (such as personal protective equipment and administrative controls) should only be used as a last resort or as a support to other control measures.
|TipIn some cases it may be necessary to put temporary controls in place until such time as the proper controls can be instituted. Wherever there is a high risk and the control measures are not immediately available, temporary controls which reduce the risk(s) must be put in place or the activity must cease until adequate controls are implemented.|
When examined in greater detail, the controls hierarchy may be divided into the following three levels:
Level 1: Eliminate the hazard
The first control option to be considered is whether it is possible to completely eliminate the hazard – in which case, the associated risks will also be removed.
|ExampleA sandwich shop owner has an electric bread slicing machine with a rotating blade which is difficult to guard. The owner discards the machine and orders sliced bread instead, thus totally eliminating the hazard.|
Level 2: Minimise the risk
Where it is not possible to eliminate a hazard, the next best option is to minimise the risks involved by:
substituting with a lesser hazard
modifying the work system or process
isolating the hazard
introducing engineering controls.
Substitute the hazard
In considering this option, ask: “Is it possible to substitute the hazard for a less hazardous option?”
|ExampleA water-based paint may be used instead of a toxic, flammable solvent-based substance.Acid for cleaning bricks on a construction site can be purchased in reduced concentration rather than full strength acid which has to be diluted on site.|
Modify the process
In considering this option, ask: “Is it possible to modify the design of the work process or plant so that it no longer presents a hazard, or so the hazard is controlled?”
|ExampleFit a plastic blade on a hover mower to reduce the severity of injury in case a person comes in contact with the blade.|
Isolate the hazard
In considering this option, ask: “Is it possible to isolate the hazard so that workers are physically separated from it?”
|ExampleFit a fixed, fully enclosing guard on a dangerous part of a machine (such as a shield on the power take-off shaft of a tractor).|
In considering this option, ask: “Is it possible to use engineering controls such as lockout procedures, process changes, presence-sensing systems, ventilation or machine guarding to reduce the risk?”
|ExampleUse a lock-out procedure to cut off power during maintenance work to high-powered machinery.Install a local exhaust system in a workshop to extract fumes from a welding process at the source.|
Level 3: Institute back-up controls
Back-up controls include:
administrative controls and safe work practices
personal protective equipment.
|ExampleAdministrative controls and safe work practicesUse written procedures to indicate:
how tasks are to be undertaken
who is permitted in the work area
what the requirements for operating different types of equipment are
any training and supervision needed.
Rotate workers so that the same workers are not exposed all the time.
Reschedule operations to times when there are fewer workers around.
Provide one-way traffic flow to minimise traffic hazards.
Instituting purchasing controls where a hazard has been eliminated to ensure that, for example, a solvent-based adhesive is not purchased by someone in the organisation who is unaware of the decision to use only the water-based alternative.
Providing adequate training, instruction and supervision to ensure that employees undertake their work safely.
|ExamplePersonal protective equipment (PPE)hard hats (or helmets) on building sites
safety goggles in laboratories
protective gloves in green keeping
leather aprons in welding
steel-capped boots in saw-milling
respiratory equipment in spray-painting
Using a combination of controls
In many circumstances it may be necessary to adopt more than one of the control measures outlined above. In addition to the control methods already outlined, back-up controls such as the use of administrative solutions and personal protective equipment should very often also be provided. These should not be regarded as primary control measures, but only as supporting measures to bolster the main measures in place. They may also be used in the short-term as part of interim control measures until permanent measures are put in place.
Risk control procedure
Step 1: choose the control measures
Go back through each risk assessment record and start by considering the best control options for the highest priority risks, working through the medium priorities to the low priorities.
|TipRemember, the lower priority risks that can be controlled quickly and easily should be controlled at the same time as the higher priority risks. The best available control measures should be put in place as soon as possible for all risks.|
Step 2: draw up a schedule
A schedule should be drawn up outlining the deadlines by which each control measure must be implemented, and the people responsible. A sample schedule form is provided below. Depending on the needs of the workplace, more details can be added and a customised form developed.
|Risk control schedule|
|Work sector: Date prepared: Signed: [Insert name of risk management team member to verify control]|
|Work zone/location||Task/Activity/ Work process||Hazard||Control measure||Control deadline||Person responsible||If delayed, state reason||If delayed, state new deadline|
Step 3: implement the controls
Whatever control measures are used, it is important to assess their potential impact before they are put in place. Ensure that the control being introduced does not actually exacerbate the hazard or introduce new hazards to the area thereby increasing the risk of injury and/or damage to property.
Where there is some delay in implementing a control, the reason must be given, initialled by the person responsible for the control measure and for the overall risk management program, and a new deadline set for the control to be put in place. All reasonable efforts must be made to ensure that temporary risk control measures are put in place. In less crtical cases, PPE and adminsistrative controls can be used. In critical cases, it will mean ceasing the hazardous activity completely until the controls are in place.
|TipTechnological progress means that what is not feasible today may be manageable in six or 12 months. Therefore, the decision that a certain risk control measure is the best available option today will not remain valid for the indefinite future. Risk control measures need to be kept under constant review to keep pace with technology. This means scheduling times to review and revise the measures in place.|
Step 4: keep records of the process
A risk control record form is provided below to assist with record keeping. This record should be adapted for used within the individual workplace, copied and filled in as required, and filed in the risk management documentation filing system. Risk control records should be attached to, cross-referenced with, or otherwise filed with related:
risk identification records
risk assessment records.
|Risk control record|
|Work sector: Date prepared: Signed:|
|Work zone/location||Task/Activity/Work process||Hazard||Risk rating||Control measure||Date implemented||Date of control review|
Risk control checklist
The following checklist offers a brief overview of the elements which must be managed in undertaking risk control effectively, taking into account the needs and resources of the organisation. Tick off each action which has been undertaken. The answer to each relevant question should be “Yes” – a “No” answer indicates that a review and remedial action should be taken.
|Risk control checklist|
|A person has been designated to coordinate the overall risk control process.|
|A decision has been made about others who will be involved in determining and coordinating risk control activities, that is risk control team members.|
|Everyone to be involved in risk control activities has been trained and fully understands their role and responsibilities.|
|Priorities for risk control have been determined based on the results of the risk assessment process.|
|All current control measures have been taken into account.|
|Employees are consulted on the development of risk control measures relevant to them.|
|All hazards which can be eliminated have been scheduled for elimination.|
|All hazards which cannot be eliminated but which can be substituted for lesser hazards have been scheduled for substitution.|
|All relevant work systems and processes have been scheduled for modification in order to minimise any hazards which cannot be eliminated or substituted for lesser hazards.|
|All hazards which cannot be eliminated, or controlled by substitution or modification of work systems/processes, have been scheduled for isolation.|
|All hazards which cannot be eliminated, or controlled by substitution, modification of work systems/processes or isolation, have been scheduled to be controlled by engineering methods.|
|Where other control measures fail to effectively minimise the risks from a hazard, back-up controls (including administrative measures and provision of personal protective equipment) have been scheduled for use.|
|Where necessary, a combination of the highest possible control options is used to provide the best level of control achievable.|
|A master risk control schedule has been developed and is overseen by the risk control coordinator.|
|Individual risk control team members have been assigned to check the implementation of controls within specific areas of the workplace.|
|Individuals have been assigned to implement the scheduled controls within specified time frames.|
|Where there is any delay in implementing a control measure, the person responsible for implementing the control documents the reason for the delay, together with the new deadline for introducing the control. This record is signed by the person responsible for the control and the risk control team member responsible for checking controls in that area.|
|Deadlines and systems are established to ensure that risk controls are reviewed at appropriate intervals to ensure that they are (and remain) effective.|
|Appropriate information, instruction and training are provided to ensure that all employees understand the controls in their area and their responsibilities with respect to these controls.|
|Adequate supervision is provided to ensure that employees cooperate with the control measures in place in their area.|
|Appropriate risk control records are made and maintained.|