Emphasizing the importance of controlling employee exposure to workplace hazards, OSHA has recommended the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH’s) new Engineering Controls Database, a tool for locating “information on effective engineering controls that can protect workers by eliminating or reducing hazardous conditions.”
The free-to-access database contains years of previously published resources generated by NIOSH. Users can search the database either by using article titles and subject matter keywords, or by searching individual Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch (EPHB) article numbers or North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. While the documents may have been available beforehand, the searchable database puts it all in one location and makes it easier to find. NIOSH says the database also presents results in a ranking order based on their effectiveness within the hierarchy of controls. This is a unique feature that should make it much easier for EHS professionals to find relevant information quickly. In some cases, users will also be able to download free PDF copies of the original articles and reports where the engineering control information was first featured.
Beyond OSHA recommending use of this database, there is reason to believe that engineering controls may be an area of increased focus for the Agency from a regulatory standpoint. For example, engineering controls figure centrally into the requirements of the new final rule — Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica — announced by OSHA earlier this year. This final rule calls for engineering controls to be implemented in a variety of situations, for employees to be trained on those engineering controls during training, and for engineering controls to be described in the written exposure control plan. (A search for “silica” on the new NIOSH database reveals 49 entries on engineering controls that reduce or eliminate worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica.)
This increased OSHA emphasis makes it more important than ever to have a formal process in place for ensuring your workplace is able to implement the physical changes needed to eliminate or reduce health hazards that may be associated with certain tasks.
VelocityEHS can help. Our Corrective Action solution gives users the tools they need to assign corrective actions, assign items to tiers of hazard elimination, and ensure steps are taken to increase the effectiveness of engineering controls, administrative controls, PPE, and more. Users can also track statuses system-wide, and create escalating notifications that ensure all stakeholders are engaged. Looking for more information on training specifically? The VelocityEHS library of expert-reviewed on demand courses includes trainings on engineering controls and related topics designed to help keep your workers safe and your workplace compliant. Remember, training can help workers stay safer by better understanding how to use protective equipment, engineering controls, and more.