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Administrative Controls: Definition & Examples

What are Administrative Controls

Administrative controls are one of the control measures which takes into consideration the training, procedure, policy, or shift designs that lessen the threat of a hazard to an individual. It is believed that administrative controls typically change the behavior of people rather than removing the actual hazard or providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Administrative controls are fourth in larger hierarchy of hazard controls, which ranks the effectiveness and efficiency of hazard controls and is more effective than PPE because they involve some manner of prior planning and avoidance, whereas PPE only serves only as a final barrier between the hazard and worker. Administrative controls are second lowest because they require workers or employers to actively think or comply with regulations and do not offer permanent solutions to problems.

Administrative controls emphasize improving safety through the implementation of policies, practices, and procedures that govern worker behavior, they are also seen as a form of continuous, human-mediated safety management. It may include prohibiting worker access to unsafe areas unless the worker is qualified and access is approved by a manager, as well as limiting work times in order to reduce exposure to a potentially hazardous substance or to avoid risk due to worker fatigue.

Generally, administrative controls are cheaper to begin, but they may become more expensive over time as higher failure rates and the need for constant training or re-certification eclipse the initial investments of the three more desirable hazard controls in the hierarchy.

Examples of Administrative Controls

  • Train workers to identify hazards, monitor hazard exposure, and safe procedures for working around the hazard. Additionally, employees should know how to protect themselves and their co-workers.
  • Rearranging or updating the steps in a job process to keep the worker for encountering the hazard. Developing standardized safe work practices is an important step.
  • Performing maintenance operations that involve toxic substances at night when the usual production staff is not present.
  • Rotating workers through various job assignments so that they do not develop repetitive motion injuries.
  • Prohibiting workers from working with ionizing radiation once they have reached a predetermined level of exposure.
  • Requiring workers in hot environments to take breaks in cool rest areas and providing fluids for rehydration.
  • Prohibiting worker access to areas involving hazards such as lasers, energized electrical equipment, or excessive noise.
  • Proper housekeeping. Reducing clutter reduces the chances for an accident and minimizes the effects if an accident does occur.
  • Having a maintenance schedule for machines known to be hazardous to keep everything running smoothly and safely. Preventive maintenance will address any equipment issues before they become a problem.
  • Posting wall signs and floor signs to enforce administrative controls. Visual cues can remind workers which areas are prohibited from entering, when breaks need to be taken to limit heat exposure, and much more.

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NOTE: Administrative control is not mutually exclusive from other safety controls. They are generally used in combination with other controls to reduce employee risk exposure to a safe level. The implementation of many administrative controls, such as OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, is a legal requirement of employers in industries that the standards apply to. Within the context of legal requirements, the exact scope of the definition of “administrative control” varies depending on the jurisdiction.

This control is not fixed, but it varies based on industry, workplace, work processes, specialization, etc.

Hence, they are designed based on need.

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