Preventative measures - the hierarchy of controls

Section 122(2) establishes the concept of “Hierarchy of Controls” when dealing with health and safety controls in the workplace.

Not all workplace controls are equal. Those controls which focus on the source of the hazard – elimination, substitution or isolation of the hazard – are generally the most effective means of preventing and controlling worker exposure. Where possible, controls at the source should be a union priority.

Employer priorities usually work in reverse. Management frequently believes it is cheaper or easier to control workers rather than control the hazard at the source. The union strategy should be to try wherever possible to achieve controls from the top of the hierarchy.

Control at the source - Union Priority

  • elimination of the hazard
  • substitution of less dangerous material
  • process redesign
  • isolation or total enclosure

Control along the path

  • local ventilation
  • special methods
  • better housekeeping
  • general ventilation

Control at the worker - Management Priority

  • personal protective equipment
  • administrative controls
  • rotating workers in a dangerous job
  • medical monitoring


September 13, 2013