Can OSHA eliminate hazards in the workplace?

The first way OSHA works to eliminate hazards in the workplace is by developing standards regarding fire hazards, chemical hazards, etc. that employers have to adhere to in order to be in compliance. OSHA has recommended practices for safety and health programs, including effectively reducing hazards in the workplace with the Hierarchy of Controls. The hierarchy is a top-down list of controls to take to control the hazard, starting from most effective and going down to the least effective. The hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Elimination of hazard: The most effective control, the hierarchy suggests physically removing the hazard from the facility. If the hazard cannot be entirely eliminated from the workplace, the next step should be implemented,
  2. Substitution/Reducing the hazard: This is replacing the hazard with a less dangerous option. For instance, if a fire hazard exists that can combust at 110°F, if it is possible the hazard should be replaced by a material that will combust at 250°F; this will reduce the risk of injury by a significant amount.
  3. Engineering controls: If elimination and substitution are not viable options, the next step is to implement engineering controls. These kinds of controls are to confine the hazard or physical barricades to keep workers from interacting with the hazard.
  4. Administrative controls: Adding rules and/or signs to the hazard’s area are both considered administrative controls. For example, if the combustible material cannot be substituted or controlled with engineering controls, administrative actions may include prohibiting workers from smoking in the area or posting clear signs reminding workers of the present hazard and risk.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Considered as the last line of defense, PPE exists to protect employees if/when a dangerous situation arises.

Another way OSHA works to eliminate workplace hazards is through inspections. If a facility is not in compliance with regulations, they are given a citation for the violation as well as a deadline for remedying the situation.


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