In 2020, Tip of the Week

This month’s quiz is based on the hierarchy of controls (above) established by the American National Standards Association (ANSI) and the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). A lot of what we do as safety professionals is to prevent and protect to ensure a safe workplace. One of the best ways to do that is to use these controls. But what do you actually know about these controls? Test yourself to find out. Answers are in the next column.

1. You are working with a crew laying waterlines in a trench for a major construction project. What would be the safest way for your crew to connect those pipes?

A. Wear their PPE while working in the trench.
B. Have only the best trained people work in the trench.
C. Inspect the trench before the crew goes in to connect the pipes.

D. Connect the pipes before a mobile crane lays the pipes into the trench, reducing and/or eliminating the need to work in the trench.

2. You need to apply some pesticides to the landscaping around the office complex. How would you choose the safest one(s) to use?

A. Read the SDS for and labels on the pesticide containers. Substitute a pesticide with lower hazards for one that has a higher hazard.
B. Only use pesticides from companies that have name recognition; they are usually more effective.
C. Only apply the pesticides early in the morning while it is cooler, so the vapors will not rise in the warmer temperatures.

D. Choose the cheapest one, and then wear gloves and a mask while applying the pesticides.

3. There is a machine that operates next to where the shipping clerk has to sit at a desk to do her paperwork. It is quite nosy, and the shipping clerk is complaining about the noise. What should you do?

A. Get a dosimeter to monitor and find out what the noise level is.
B. Consider finding an engineered blanket or barrier to muffle the noise.
C. Move the shipping clerk’s desk to a quieter area.
D. Consider if the machine needs to be operating while the clerk is sitting at the desk.

E. All of the above.

4. The same shipping clerk says that the area where her desk is located is also very cold during the winter months. With colder weather approaching, she has asked to bring in a space heater to keep warm. You are concerned about a potential fire hazard. How would you control the potential for a fire?

A. Don’t allow her to have the space heater.
B. Allow the space heater but establish a rule that it can only be used while she is sitting at the desk.
C. Allow the space heater but only if it has tipover protection and an automatic shutoff.
D. Allow a space heater to be borrowed from human resources department. If it is already in use at the company, it must be safe.
E. Only A and D would be safe.

F. Only B and C would be safe.

5. You are working at a manufacturing plant. Every month employees have to climb a ladder up to a platform that is 12 feet off the ground to inspect three valves on a tank. If the valves are not working properly, the employees must repair them in place. The platform does not have any barrier on two sides. What can you do to make that safer?

A. Install a guardrail on the two sides with no barriers.
B. Build stairs going up to the platform.
C. Train the employees on how to climb the ladder safely, and to stay away from the edges of the platform.
D. Move the valves to the ground level.
E. None of the above.
F. All of the above.
Fuel for thought:

Looking at the hierarchy of controls, which of the answers would provide the highest level of control and safety for question 5, and why?



6. We’ve all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Thinking about the hierarchy of controls, match the control with the preventative measures we have been using.

1. Staying at home, not going out.
2. Social distancing of at least 6 feet.
3. Washing our hands.
4. Wearing a mask.
a. Elimination of exposure.
b. Substitution.
c. Engineering controls.
d. Warnings.
e. Administration controls.


1. D
2. A
3. E
4. F
5. F
6. 1. a.
    2. a, e.
    3. e.

    4. f.

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