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What you need to know about the hierarchy of controls

Whether you work in a factory, on a rig, at a farm or anywhere else, you experience potential hazards every time you clock in. After all, heights, equipment, heat, chemicals and other workplace dangers pose a risk to any worker. Fortunately, there are several measures your employer can take to keep you safe at work. 

Some jobs are inherently dangerous. Still, for many organizations, completing hazardous tasks are essential to business. Put simply, your employer has a duty to keep you safe at work. To do so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends going through the hierarchy of controls. This top-down approach promotes worker safety by controlling worker exposure to hazardous conditions. Here is how it works: 

Elimination 

The first step your employer should take to keep you safe at work is to eliminate dangerous working conditions if possible. 

Substitution 

Because of its business model, or for other reasons, your employer may be incapable of eliminating the workplace hazard. If that is the case, he or she should try to find a safer alternative. 

Engineering 

Naturally, not all workplace hazards are eligible for elimination and substitution. If your employer must have you perform dangerous functions, he or she should use engineering to minimize the danger. This may include investing in machines to perform dangerous parts of the job. 

Administration 

Next, your employer must play an administrative role to keep you safe at work. Instituting administration controls may require providing training, ensuring adequate supervision or taking other steps. 

Personal protective equipment 

Finally, when you are performing hazardous job duties, your manager should be certain that you have the correct PPE. Remember, what gear is right for one job may be grossly inadequate for another. Still, your boss should outfit you with the right gear for every dangerous task you perform. 

If you sustain a serious injury at work, your life may never be the same again. Fortunately, by following the hierarchy of controls, your employer can likely put measures in place to minimize your chances of sustaining an on-the-job injury.

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