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When conducting a risk assessment for work activities, to help ensure that it is suitable and sufficient and in compliance with the applicable regulations, you should think about the control measures you are going to use to reduce any risk and should always follow the Hierarchy of Control. 

The Hierarchy of Control assists in prioritizing and designing the control measures you will use to reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level and follows the steps below. 

  • eliminate the hazard; avoid the hazard altogether, e.g., design improvements, change or even stop the activity. 
  • substitute with less hazardous processes, operations, materials, or equipment. 
  • use engineering controls and reorganization of work. 
  • use administrative controls, including training. 
  • use adequate personal protective equipment. 


This is intended as a hierarchy since the effectiveness reduces as you work down the list as well as the ease with which control measures are implemented and maintained. 

Additional principles to apply in defining control measures: 

  • Adapt the work to the individual (design of workplace) taking account of individual mental and physical capabilities. 
  • Take advantage of technical progress to improve controls, e.g. To achieve further automation. 
  • Develop a set of controls that covers technology, organisation of work, working conditions, psychosocial factors and the influence of factors relating to the working environment. 
  • Give collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures, e.g., restricted access areas such as switch rooms, high noise areas. 
  • Consider the need to introduce planned maintenance, such as regular extraction system maintenance, servicing of guards and interlocks or lubrication. 
  • Establish a positive safety culture so that avoidance, prevention, and reduction of risks are accepted as the organisation’s approach to all its activities. 
  • Consider the need for emergency arrangements such as alarm systems and back-up controls. 
  • Develop emergency/evacuation plans and provide emergency equipment as well as training. 


Also, when conducting a risk assessment and think about control measures, you should consider the following: 

  • If the process/activity is routine or non-routine. 
  • All people who might be affected whether employed or not employed. 
  • Ergonomics and movement of materials. 
  • Considerations as to why the assessment is taking place. 
  • Effects on the process by external forces. 
  • External effects of the process. 
  • Effects of legal or other regulatory requirements. 
  • Interfaces with the management system. 

Need some help conducting risk asessments for your business? Need some extra advice on the topic?

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DISCLAIMER: The article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances may impact the accuracy and validity of the information. EffectiveHRM is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for any action or decision taken as a result of using the guidance.


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