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15th July, 2015

The Hierarchy Of Risk Control

Step 3 of the HSE's 5 steps to risk assessment involves evaluating if existing precautions are adequate, or if more should be done to reduce risk.

One of the best ways to both assess existing controls and identify new control measures, is to consider how effective they are based on the hierarchy of risk control.

The hierarchy of risk control is used when undertaking risk assessment activities, to control hazards and minimise risk.

Once you have calculated the level of risk, you should decide on the precautions or controls needed to reduce the risk.

To control risk, you need to do everything 'reasonably practicable'. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble.

Key considerations should be, firstly, can you eliminate the risk by getting rid of the hazard completely?

If the hazard cannot be eliminated, then how can the risks be controlled so that harm is unlikely?

Controlling risks means assessing the adequacy of existing controls or introducing new controls to prevent harm.

When controlling risks, there is a hierarchy of risk control which should be followed:

  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Engineering controls
  4. Reduced or limited exposure
  5. Good housekeeping
  6. Safe systems of work
  7. Training and information
  8. Personal protective equipment
  9. Welfare
  10. Monitoring and supervision
  11. Reviews

The top control 'elimination' is most effective, and the list follows in order from most effective to least effective.

You may need to implement a combination of two or more controls from the hierarchy to adequately control the risk, particularly high risks, to a level that is 'reasonably practicable'.

Find out more about risk assessment and the five steps to risk assessment with our online introduction to risk assessment elearning training course. Download a certificate for your records on completion of the end of course assessment.

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