The hierarchy of control is a list of five controls that can be applied to industrial processes in order to address potential hazards to workers.
Each control in the list presents a general category of activities that a company can undertake to mitigate or even remove hazards from the workplace.
The list of the five controls is generally presented as an inverted triangle, with the least effective method for controlling hazards presented at the bottom, the next least immediately above that, and so on, like this:
By removing hazards through intentional planning, the ultimate goal of using the hierarchy of hazard controls is to help workers avoid work-related illness, injuries, and accidents on site.
HAZARD CONTROLS FOR INDOOR INSPECTIONS
In a traditional indoor inspection of a boiler or pressure vessel, the only controls available to site administrators are generally the two lowest levels—PPE and Administrative Controls.
The reason for this is fairly simple.
The three higher tiers of the hierarchy of controls—Engineering Controls, Substitution, and Elimination—all require the hazard to be removed, replaced, or for the person to be isolated from it.
But for indoor inspections that are performed manually, none of these options are available because inspectors must physically enter the confined space in order to perform a visual inspection with their naked eye.
And this fact leaves only the first two levels of control available—unless you can use some kind of robotics solution, like a drone, to completely take the place of the inspector. (We'll cover drones in the next section, which deals with where drones fit into the hierarchy of hazard controls.)