Step 3 - Manage risks

Once the hazards have been identified and their associated risks assessed, the next step is to consider:

  • If the hazards can be removed altogether, and if not
  • How the risks can be controlled so as to minimise harm?

The strategy recommending how to control risks in the order of effectiveness is called the hierarchy of control. Removing the hazards altogether is the most favourable way to deal with risks. If you cannot eliminate the hazards, a combination of the control measures may be necessary to effectively manage the risks. Where the residual hazards can not be managed by the above measures providing appropriate personal protective equipment will be the last preference.

Consider these control strategies and put the ideas into the safety action plan 

Hierarchy of control

The hierarchy of control can be used as an effective tool to deal with health and safety issues at work. Use the type of control suggested as measures to deal with the hazard.  Aim to use control measures from as high on the hierarchy of control list as possible. If that is not possible the next option down the list or a combination of the measures should be implemented. The least effective control measure is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and it should be used as a last resort or a support to other control measures. Information and training should be integrated with all levels of control to explain how controls work.

Hierarchy of control
Hierarchy of control, by WorkSafe
Hierarchy of control, by WorkSafe

Eliminate - if it is possible, the hazard should be removed completely.  For example, get rid of dangerous machines.

Substitute - replace something that produces the hazard with something that does not produce a hazard. For example, replacing solvent based paint with water based paint. Risk assessment on the substitution must be conducted to ensure that it will not pose another hazard.

Engineering control - isolate a person from the hazard by creating physical barrier or making changes to process, equipment or plant to reduce the hazard.  For example, install ventilation systems. 

Administrative control - change the way a person works by establishing policies and procedures to minimise the risks.  For example, job scheduling to limit exposure and posting hazard signs.

Use personal protective equipment (PPE) - protect a person from the hazard by wearing PPE. For example, wearing gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and high-visibility clothing. PPE must be correctly fitted, used and maintained to provide protection.

Safety fact – Manage risks

The most common risk at the workplace is body stressing related to manual tasks. During 2012-13 the injury group traumatic joint/ ligament and muscle/ tendon injury represented the highest proportion of work-related injuries in Western Australia. The injuries were responsible for more than half of all incidences rate (55.1 per cent).


Share this page:

Last modified: