What are control measures?

Control measures are actions that are taken in response to a hazard that has the potential to cause illness or harm in the workplace. The control measures can either be designed to reduce the risks or eliminate them completely, with the latter obviously being preferred.

Control measures follow a hierarchical pattern, with each step being worked through and implemented to control and minimise the risk identified, as follows:

Risk Elimination

Risk elimination is at the top of the hierarchy, being the most preferred option to control an identified risk.


Substituting a risk won’t be as effective as removing the risk completely as it is possible that the new system will introduce new risks and hazards.

Risk Isolation

Risk isolation is a control measure designed to either isolate the risk itself from the employee or person that may experience it or isolate access to the risk factor to only authorised personnel, properly trained in it’s handling and usage.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls involves redesigning something at the engineering level to remove or reduce the risk.

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls are control measures based around the training, planning, and personnel assignment of hazardous environments.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should normally be utilised even when the risks are being controlled by measures further up the hierarchy.  PPE serves as the last line of defence to protect employees from the risk.

While these risk control measures follow a hierarchical structure from most preferred to least preferred, it’s unlikely they will be used in isolation of each other.

When controlling risks the best option will often be a combination of the above controls, for example isolating the risk while still providing employees with PPE in case isolation has to be breached.