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Administrative controls (or work practice controls) are changes in work procedures such as written safety policies, rules, supervision, schedules, and training with the goal of reducing the duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to hazardous chemicals or situations.
Those who work with hazardous chemicals in the workplace should already be familiar with the administrative controls required under 29 CFR 1910.1200, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. The HazCom standard requires that employers provide information and training about chemical hazards in the workplace. Other OSHA standards address environmental and medical surveillance such as work place inspections, equipment preventive maintenance, and exposure monitoring. In addition, laboratory workers have written policies and procedures (a "chemical hygiene plan") that details safe work practices.
Although administrative controls can (and should) always be used to control employee exposure, they are prone to human error and can not be relied upon to reduce exposure all the time. Additional control mechanisms such as substitution of less hazardous materials/procedures, engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required to address employee exposure to the hazard(s).|
Some specific examples of administrative controls include:
- 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.
Recognize that administrative, engineering, and other types of controls (including PPE) are not mutually exclusive. Employers may need to use multiple types of controls to prevent employee overexposure.
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- "Occupational Ergonomics: Engineering and Administrative Controls (Principles and Applications in Engineering)", Hardcover, 680 pages, 2003. Estimated price $159.95. Info and/or order.
- "Safety Made Easy: A Checklist Approach to OSHA Compliance", Paperback, 2007. Estimated price: $54.13. Info and/or order.
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