The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 established the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, also known as NIOSH. This organization was founded with the goal of researching worker safety and health, and providing guidelines for employers to create safe and healthy workplace environments. A division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NIOSH has been diligently working to ensure that information is accessible to those who want to improve the safety of their operations.
On the NIOSH section of the CDC website, they’ve published a helpful guide for helping you to control and minimize the risk of exposure to hazards in the workplace. This hierarchy of controls provides a framework from most to least effective in terms of the way you manage these hazards and the exposure to your operators. This hierarchy of controls contains (5) levels of actions that can be taken to reduce or remove hazards from the workplace. In order of most to least effective, these controls are:
- Engineering Controls
- Administrative Controls
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The least effective option for mitigating risks may not have been what you originally thought. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is something I’m sure you talk about often with your operators. Would you believe that this is ranked as the least effective method of preventing risks? This is because equipment can become easily damaged, may be uncomfortable and not always used when necessary, or simply used in an improper manner. We’ve all been guilty of doing something that we know we should’ve likely worn some PPE for, just out of convenience. Since it’s so easy to forget or simply not use, it makes PPE the least effective method when it comes to enhancing safety.
Moving up one notch on the scale we have administrative controls. These are also at the lower end of the effectiveness spectrum. These types of controls are centered around making changes to the way personnel works around the equipment. This can be achieved through implementation of training to correct operating procedures, cleanliness of the workplace, personal hygiene practices (proper hand-washing after handling hazardous materials for example). These, again, rely on the operator to listen and act in the way they’re trained.
Engineering controls reside in the middle of the effectiveness range. These are implemented by design changes to the equipment or process that reduces the risk of hazard. These controls can be very effective in protecting people regardless of the actions or behaviors of the operators. They are higher in cost generally than an administrative or PPE control, but can make operating costs lower and allow for a cost savings over the long-term.
Substitution is where EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products come into play. By offering engineered solutions that meet or exceed OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a), EXAIR’s line of Safety Air Guns, Air Nozzles, and other engineered blowoffs will ensure your operators are not at risk when using our equipment. Anywhere you’re performing some sort of compressed air blowoff process, it’s important to be using equipment designed with safety in mind.
The most effective, but usually the hardest to implement, is elimination. This involves physically removing the hazard from the process. In many cases, a complete elimination is not going to be possible. That’s when you turn to the substitution method and look to EXAIR for a solution.
With years of industry experience under our belt, we’re well-equipped to help you improve safety in your workplace through a variety of off-the-shelf products. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to discuss how we fit into your facility’s processes!
Tyler Daniel, CCASS
Hierarchy of Controls Image: used from Public Domain