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Hierarchy Control Safety Program

By Andre Bonneau PAg., Agricultural Health and Safety Representative

January 2018

Developing a farm safety program can seem to be a daunting task – where do you start and what needs to be done? We can break down the process of developing a farm safety program by using the Hierarchy of Control.

The Hierarchy of Control is a decision-making guideline that helps managers organize and mitigate risks. When a danger or a risk is identified, a manager can look at the Hierarchy and decide what level of control is suitable for the specific risk.

The Hierarchy is a list of five actions, beginning with the most effective control:

  1. Eliminate the Risk – Can the risk be removed from the workplace? For example, a dangerous bull could be sold or an old building could be taken down before it collapses.
  2. Reduce the Hazard – The second level is to substitute the danger with a lesser risk. For example, could a toxic product be replaced with a non-toxic substitute? 
  3. Engineering a Solution – a shield could be put in place to protect staff from danger. A roll over protective structure (or ROPS) could be installed on the old tractor.
  4. Administrative Controls – change a process to reduce risk such as a prestart checklist before using equipment or limiting exposure to loud noises to 5 minutes or less.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment – when no other control measure is possible, the worker can be isolated from the hazard with respirators, gloves, hard-toe shoes, etc.

The first item on the list, eliminate the risk, is the most effective method of controlling a hazard while the last item, personal protective equipment is the least effective.

If all risks on the farm were approached with the Hierarchy of Control in mind, most of the hazards and risks on the farm can be mitigated. 

For more information on the Hierarchy of Control, farm safety plans or agricultural safety in general, contact Andre Bonneau at 306 960-4293 or visit the Agricultural Health and Safety Network.

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