The Hierarchy of Risk Control

All too often, when thinking about risk, we automatically start to think about how to protect the worker from the hazard (e.g. when welding we automatically start to consider which respiratory will work best in order to protect the worker from the fumes generated by the welding process). That is really not the hierarchy, however. Way before we start thinking about respirator cartridges we should be thinking about exhaust, fume extractors, thinking about alternate ways to get the job done, etc… There is, in fact, a hierarchy of risk assessment and it runs like this:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering controls (e.g. isolation, insulation and ventilation)\
  • Reduced or limited time exposure
  • Good housekeeping
  • Safe systems of work
  • Training and information
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Welfare
  • Monitoring and supervision
  • Reviews


Notice that the PPE part doesn’t show up until #8!