Are You a Control Freak?

Another reason to love health and safety is controlFreakbecause finally the excuse to be a Control Freak is a good thing. Control is what we want to do to all hazards.

There are different types of controls and the most unpracticed (and unofficial) control is common sense. While many people may argue that common sense isn’t so common, in most cases if a person sits back for a moment and really focuses on the task and anticipated outcomes, many of us would come to the same conclusion, hence making it common. Please note, we are not suggesting that your safety team draw up a plan for “common sense” to be your go-to hazard control measure.

So, if common sense can’t fix everything, what can? Consider what the controls are in your workplace, who ensures controls are in-place and adequate, and ultimately, how many control freaks does it take to prevent an injury?

When a hazard cannot be eliminated (the preferred way to deal with a hazard), then controls are needed. There are many types of controls, such as administrative, engineering, training and the last line of defense or control that should be used is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Most organizations are quick to train or implement PPE to control a hazard but is that the best control? Training is often forgotten, not retained or not practiced. PPE is really a weak control. What if it is not worn properly, not maintained or simply forgotten.

How does your workplace evaluate the effectiveness of controls? Who is responsible for the evaluation? Is it just your safety committee members or are all employees expected to evaluate the controlling of hazards in the workplace? Everyone needs to be trained on being a “control freak” and learning how to always be on the lookout for better controls.

Many people overlook the behaviour of others as a factor in hazard control. Controlling a worker’s behaviour is as important as a guard or a shield to create a barrier between the hazard and the worker. How are your worker behaviours controlled? Through job observation, discipline for unsafe behaviours, adherence to your safety program?

We need to speak about controls as much as we do hazards and document what are the needed controls for each identified hazard. Posters, pictograms, safety talks, safe operating procedures, are all effective in messaging controls in your workplace. Work with everyone in every department and gather input, opinions and ideas on how to control the hazards. Your workers and operators are, in my opinion, the best source of answers to safety concerns. Create as many “control freaks” as you can in your workplace. Wear it as a badge of honour. Start a campaign…. Want to be a “control freak”? Ask me how!