The hierarchy of controls

The hierarchy of controls is an essential tool in the OH&S education and the everyday practice of keeping safe while at work. As you can see from the picture below it breaks down the ways you should approach a hazard. It breaks it into 5 different categories ranging from most effective to least effective. Every category on the triangle is an effective method for handling a hazard and can be combined at times as well.


This is the best result for any hazard, to completely eliminate any risk from the task or to remove that particular task all together. This is obviously a great line to take if it is practical. Unfortunately there is very few scenarios where removing the task is viable. When there is a task that needs to be done, not doing that task is not a very effective way of well… doing the task. While it may be the most effective way to reduce risk it has always seemed to me to be a bit redundant.


Altering the tasks steps or altering the way the task is done to replace the hazard with a different thing is another way you can improve a hazardous situation. This step can also be a bit of a trap because sometimes there is a bit of a culture to just change something for the sake of change. When altering a task to try and replace the hazard the obvious thing needs to be said, make sure that the change you are doing is improving the task at hand while also making it safer. There is little point in improving the task if it makes the task itself less safe.

Engineering controls:

Engineering controls involve isolating people from the hazards present in a task, for instance, if there is a task that is usually completed at height if there is a way that the task can be done on the ground that would isolate the person from the hazard. Engineering controls also refer to things such as fitting guards over dangerous machinery that is used in a task that will stop the person from being able to get hurt by the dangerous aspect of the machine.

Administrative controls:

This involves education to the people who will be carrying out the task, this can include various safety meetings where information is passed both ways from management to staff and vice versa. Once the task is fully understood you can figure out a method of changing the way the task is carried out so it is safer. This is a viable method because education is always important and the more you understand something the better you will be at it.


PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the last thing you should do to protect yourself from a hazard (sort of). The reason I say sort of is because PPE will likely be used in almost all work environments, regardless of which other hierarchy control is used. You will use PPE regardless, the idea is that you wouldn’t need to use PPE if the hazard was removed but generally if you are doing a job some part of it will require safety glasses, hearing protection or closed toe steel cap boots.

This has been a short breakdown of the hierarchy of controls and I hope it was informative.

Working at heights

In a vast majority of technical professions working at heights is unavoidable at times, sometimes the work that needs to be done is in a spot that you cannot reach without equipment. Whether this equipment is a ladder or a scissor lift or maybe you have to use a harness while working on a roof. I did a stint as a roof tiling apprentice when I was younger, I only survived a couple of years, that job is tough! With all hazards in the workplace, OH&S guidelines will recommend that you eliminate the hazard from your work routine as the first point of action. They obviously know that sometimes this will be impossible, you cannot tile a roof without … being on the roof, so a fall hazard will always be present. It is all about minimising the risk as best as you can.

Minimising fall risk

In this personal opinion article, I will mainly be drawing on my experiences as a roof tiler and a little bit from when I worked fixing planes. When it came to roof tiling it was all about reducing the risk on the roof, I moved interstate in the middle of my apprenticeship and this is actually what caused me to give up the job. In the first state I lived in the safety systems in place were quite robust, guardrail was present on every roof we worked on, the odds of falling off a roof were minimal as long as you paid due diligence. I moved interstate and took up roof tiling with a new crew. The safety elements in the new state were abysmal in comparison to the old systems that were in place in my previous work environment. This highlighted to me how important safety is because I was literally scared about injuring myself for the entire day and I could not move past that fact.

In a previous job fixing aeroplanes, the emphasis on safety was even more pronounced than in the better roof tiling job. While safety was important in the roof tiling job there was always an element of making sure to just get the job done, however in the hanger everything was about safety, not just for you but also for the equipment you were using. Sometimes you would have to work up at heigh on top of the jet, presenting an obvious fall risk. Fall arrest mats were used in case of a fall.

Working at heights can be dangerous but there is a huge amount of ways to make it safer for you and safer for everyone around you. If you are working on a platform at heigh make sure it has kick panels, you would hate to kick a tool off your platform and for it to land on somebodies head. If you are activating a scissor lift or a cherry picker make sure that you attach your harness before you start to raise the bucket. Common sense as always will always be the biggest factor when it comes to safety. Think safe, be safe.

If you are ever unsure about a safety aspect of any job you are doing make sure that you contact a safety supervisor in the workplace, if you don’t have one then maybe you need to find a different environment to work in, or talk to your supervisors about establishing a more prominent safety culture in your workplace. Roofers Brisbane provides roofing safety systems to ensure a safe workplace. Contact them click here.

No one deserves to get hurt at work.


Staying Safe at Work

Workplace Safety

When it comes to knowing the workplace and what hazards exist, employees and employers have big responsibilities on a ground level. The Canadian work code outline these responsibilities and rights that all workers have.

Employee Rights

As an employee, you have a great responsibility by, in which, your every move or lack of has the potential to cause a workplace incident. No one is as responsible for your personal safety as you are yourself. However, this does come with great rights as well. All employees have the right to;

  • Work in a safe environment
  • Be supplied with the correct equipment to maintain a safe environment
  • Be trained to become proficient to carry out regular tasks safely

Further rights outlined in the code are;


As an employee, you are eligible for the information the government pertains in relation to the employer’s health & safety record or similar. You have the right to be informed of any known hazards or foreseeable incidents that may arise from future planned tasks.


If an organisation or company has more than 300 employees, they are obligated to have a health & safety committee so members can participate in creating a safer work environment. You have the right to carry out the means necessary to create a safer and healthy environment for yourself or others around you.


If a situation arises that you as the employee feel that the situation will become unsafe and lead to an injury or potential injury, then you have the right to stop the work and seek further input. The correct method of control must be followed and this can be found in the code.

Employee Responsibilities

As the employee, you must follow all regulations and rules for your workplace and from any governing authority in the applicable industry. Some examples include;

  • Using all provided safety devices or apparatuses
  • Co-operating with anyone that is utilising and abiding by the code
  • Report any unsafe acts or potential hazards
  • Comply with all oral or written direction in the positive promotion of safe environments

Employer responsibilities

The employer is crucial to preventing workplace incidents and mitigating risks. As an employer, you must ensure that all employees have the necessary level of supervision to assist them in carrying out their tasks safely. You must also ensure that the employees have access to tools and the necessary channels of communication to speak up about hazards or concerns they have.

Information, training, and supervision

As the employer, you must ensure all employees are aware of the tasks risks and hazards. You must provide the adequate training and protection necessary to mitigate the risk.

The employer must ensure that the safety committee that was appointed is carrying out regular meeting and field checks. This will raise awareness of safety while also making it easier for the employees to speak up about concerns. This, in turn, will create a better work environment for everyone.

Employer investigations

It is the employer’s responsibility to follow up all reports from employees and effectively act as required.


Regular inspections will help reduce hazards and risks to all the workforce. It is imperative that regular checks are carried out. If a hazard or risk is reported then the employer has 30 days in which, they must provide a written response.

Accident investigations and reporting

Employers must report any serious accident within 24hrs to the Labour Program.

Once an investigation is completed the employer has 14 days since the time of an injury to re[port the findings to the Labour Program.

Employers Annual Hazardous Occurrence Report and the Work Place Committee Report are required annually.

Both parties play an important part in safety in the workp[lace and it is up to everyone to work together to achieve a safe working environment.

Electrical Fire Warning

Our families are the most important possession and we do anything to keep them safe. First we make sure the homes are safe from any electrical danger. According to Electrician Brisbane Northside, electrical fires account for more than 51,000 home fires each year’s causing close to 500 deaths and more than 1,400 injuries. Fires resulting from electrical fault accounts for more than $1.3 billion in property damage.

Electrician Brisbane reports that electrical receptacles are involved in 5,300 fires every year, causing 40 deaths and more than 100 consumer injuries.

Here are some signs to look for that could lead to an electrical fire:

Smell burning plastic and vinyl

If you smell brining plastic or vinyl or anything electrical burning, call an electrician immediately. It can help you catch a fire before it break because most signs of electrical fires are odorless.

Circuit breaker

Having the wrong circuit breaker installed can be dangerous. For instance, lots of homeowners replace standard 15-amp circuit breakers with a 20-amp breaker for higher, however in realty these 20 amp breakers are meant for major appliances.

Higher rating on the lower amp circuit ill cause overloads and breaker will not trip, a likelihood of overheating and eventually electrical fire.

Do you keep resetting your circuit breaker? This means it’s overloaded and not working properly and should be replaced.

Home appliances

An older home, you may notice certain lights flickering or dimming, especially after installing modern appliance (microwave ovens, computers) this can mean an electrical issue or a short.

When you turn on home appliance, lamp, and you hear buzzing or a slight shock/buzz that means something is wrong and you need to unplug the appliance and call your electrician.

The electrical outlets should never be hot or warm at a touch, buzzing or have black marks on them. Before moving to a new home have a professional electrician to inspect the home wiring. Over time wires become loose and insulation can wear off, causing shorts and ground fault.

Proper ground fault

All outlets near sinks, tubs need to have a working ground fault circuit interrupters outlet. These a requirement by code and made to trip anytime they come in contact with water.  They are easily identifiable (square appearance and two reset button). If your still have the traditional outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms an Electrician can replace them with GFCI outlets.

Why hire a licensed electrician?

If you ever did your own electrical work in your house, check with a professional electrician to inspect your electrical system.

For homeowners who built in the 1960s and 1970s, and your house has aluminum wiring. You need to redo the wiring as aluminum wiring expands and contracts with outside temperature changes leading to loose connections and can be serous fire hazard. Replacing with copper wiring should be done as soon as possible.

In a nutshell, if any if the above applies to your home, call a licensed and certified electrician. They can inspect your system and make recommendation to keep your home is safe.