Workplace Health and Safety Obligations – Control of Hazards

Workplace Health and Safety legislation requires the owner of a business (called a duty holder in the legislation) to identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to risks to the health and safety of, among others, employees and members of the public accessing the premises.

Having identified a hazard and any attendant risks, the duty holder must eliminate those risks so far as is practicable, and, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Control Measures

The legislation identifies a range of control measures that must be implemented where it is not reasonably practicable to totally eliminate risks. One or more of the following steps must be taken;-

  • Substitute (wholly or partly) the hazard giving rise to the risk with something that gives rise to a lesser risk – eg., purchase a less noisy compressor to the one that is currently in use;
  • Isolate the hazard from any person exposed to it – eg., fit guards to a dangerous piece of equipment;
  • Implement engineering controls – eg., install exhaust fans to remove unsafe gases and dusts;
  • Implement administrative controls – eg., limit the time any one person is exposed to noisy equipment;
  • If a risk still remains after implementing the above measures, provide suitable personal protective equipment.

Maintenance of Control Measures

Having implemented control measures, a duty holder must ensure that the control measure is maintained so that it remains effective and remains fit for purpose; suitable for the nature and duration of the work; and is installed, set up and used correctly.

Review of Control Measures

The duty holder must review and, as necessary, revise control measures so that they remain effective. Such a review must be done if it becomes obvious that the control measure is ineffective in controlling the risk; when there is a change to the workplace or any aspect of the work environment; or there is a change to a system of work, a process or a procedure.

Ted Kowalski
Contributor

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