Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Use of Awareness Controls

The Hierarchy of Controls outlines the levels of safeguarding and ranks them by their effectiveness.  Right in the middle of the triangle are awareness controls.  Awareness controls are used to identify hazards in the process but don’t provide much protection from them.  Sometimes the risk is low enough that just identifying the hazards to operators is enough and these can be sufficient.  A good safeguarding plan has many levels of protection, and even if hazards are protected by engineered controls, awareness markings can be a good idea.  Knowing where the hazards are is an important fundamental for the workers on the equipment.

Awareness controls can take many forms.  They commonly look to be markings or labelling on equipment that outlines the hazard.  They could identify pinch points or moving parts that could harm the operator.  Pictures of the hazards and the result of coming in contact with it should be used instead of words.  This can easily be understood by many cultures or reading levels.  Signs or markings that only say “danger” shall not be used.  Another awareness control can be floor marking.  Floor markings can identify areas that are operator only, meaning no third parties should be standing there.  Guard railings can also be an awareness control.  They don’t prevent an operator or bystander from climbing over them but they are a good deterrent.

Awareness controls could also be lights and sounds.  For example you may have an interlocked door that prevents access to an area of the process or equipment.  A light could indicate when the door is open.  This is a great addition to an engineered control to warn workers in that area that someone is in the hazard zone.  It’s also a great visual tool for the production to understand that a process is stopped, and why it’s stopped.  This can let everyone know there might be a problem at this station.


Awareness controls can be an important part of a safeguarding plan.  It’s important to use them correctly and use your risk assessment to understand if they are sufficient or need to be part of a larger control.  Finally like the equipment they reside on, they need to be maintained.  Awareness markings are of no use if they have worn off with time.  Feel free to contact us with any questions about the use of awareness controls.


Posted by Kristin Petaski at 10:12 AM 0 Comments
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