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What is the Hierarchy of Hazard Control?

The hierarchy of hazard control is a three-step process to control workplace hazards. These steps are, in order: engineering controls, administrative controls, and wearing PPE.

Engineering controls are the first step in controlling hazards. These functional changes in the workplace focus on the hazard source, rather than the employee, to make jobs easier or safer. These include removing dangerous materials or processes from the workplace, physically enclosing a hazard to prevent exposure, and establishing barriers or local ventilation.

Administrative controls are the second step in the hierarchy of hazard controls, and are used when engineering controls are insufficient, unavailable, or impractical. These controls change job processes or physical conditions that create a hazard. Examples include lockout-tagout systems and requiring work permits such as those for hot work or confined spaces.

PPE is the third step in the hierarchy. Wearing PPE is always a last resort, after engineering controls and administrative controls are unable to remove hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level.


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