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What Is The Hierarchy of Controls

In order to help prevent and control hazards, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies six action items that employers should follow:

  1. Identify control options
  2. Select controls
  3. Develop and update a hazard control plan
  4. Select controls to protect workers during nonroutine operations and emergencies
  5. Implement selected controls in the workplace

Once control options have been identified, companies should select the most feasible and permanent options according to the Hierarchy of Controls, which prioritizes the most effective controls over the least effective:

  • Elimination - physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution - replace the hazard
  • Engineering controls - isolate people from the hazard
  • Administrative controls - change the way people work
  • PPE - protect the worker with personal protective equipment



Personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective apparel, is the last line of defense in protecting people from workplace hazards. In those circumstances when hazards cannot be eliminated or controlled by engineering or administrative solutions, PPE may be the only effective barrier between a person and a hazard. 


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