Recognize workplace hazards early for easier control
The first step in controlling workplace hazards is identifying them.
Hazard recognition requires understanding of the process, work operation, and the inventory of physical and chemical agents associated with that process. One of the principles of occupational hygiene is hazard recognition, which is the acknowledgement of the presence of health hazards in the workplace. The three basic hazard-recognition procedures in any process are:
- What is being produced?
- What are the intermediate products?
- What are the by-products?
Industrial hygienists measure the levels of potential health hazards, comparing the results with the applicable standards or recommended guidelines.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association defines the occupational principle of hazard control as the “adjustment or regulation of an operation to meet a standard or guideline, the reduction of contaminant release and the ability to contain a stressor.”
Administrative controls like job rotation, preventive maintenance and housekeeping comprise one hazard control option. Engineering controls are another and include process change, isolation, ventilation and source modification.
Personal protective equipment like gloves, eye protection, respirators and other equipment to reduce employees’ exposures to hazards in the workplace, are another example of hazard control. However, the use of a PPE should be the last resort. It is the least effective control option and requires more supervision. Industrial hygienists reassess the effectiveness of all existing control measures regularly.