The prevention hierarchy helps us determine the priorities in the detection and reduce risks. These are the seven levels:

  1. Eliminate the risk
  2. Replace risk with safer alternatives
  3. Combat risks at source
  4. Provide collective protection
  5. Provide personal protection
  6. Provide training
  7. Signage - warning

Eliminate the risk

Evaluate the need to perform certain risky procedures within the company. The best way to something more secure is by ensuring that the dangerous situation disappears.

Replace risk with safer alternatives

For many products there are safer alternatives.

Combat risks at source

As early as possible in the chain try to combat the risks. If certain risks are already disabled, for example during production, this will already provide a safer transport.

Provide collective protection

Collective protection ensures that an entire group of employees or third parties are not exposed to certain risks. Typical examples are safety cages, shutting down a site, a balustrade, air filters, ...

Provide personal protection

Personal protective equipment provide protection to a person - typical examples include: hearing protection, safety footwear, helmets, protective clothing, goggles, ...

Note: Personal protection offer no protection to bystanders or employees who work in the vicinity of a risk.

Provide training

This measure actually belongs aside all the other: workers at all times need to be trained to safely deal with the risks they are exposed to. Newsletters, toolbox meetings, external or internal training, ... Typical courses include: BA4/BA5-attest, forklift driver, HACCP rules, ...

Training enhances the competency of workers. The result is not only safer personnel, but also more productive and motivated employees.

Signage - warning

At the end of each risk analysis some residual risks will always remain. Often these are acceptably low, sometimes only very specific groups will be exposed (eg technical service for maintenance).

Signage can be done by means of symbols, visual signs or auditive signals, but can also be tangible (for example the soft tiles along the street may indicate a crosswalk to blind and partially sighted people), or an odor (eg: natural gas is is odorless - a smelly substance is added for domestic use. If the gas remains open, your nose will warn you).


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