Step 3 - Control Measures

Control Measures

Now that we’ve identified the hazards and evaluated the risks it’s time to work out how to make the activity safer.

The best way to do this is to work through a control measures hierarchy. This is basically a system that considers the ways that you can make an activity safer in a logical order ranging from the most effective to the least effective.

  1. Can you eliminate the hazard? The most effective way of controlling a hazard is to eliminate it. Whilst this isn’t always possible it should always be the first question you ask when completing a risk assessment.
    Example: If the installation of a banner means that a rigger has to climb the truss to make the installation, why not establish a way for the banner to be rigged at ground level, and eliminate the need for the rigger to work at height at all?
  2. Can you reduce the hazard? If the hazard can’t be eliminated it’s time to start considering how the risk can be reduced. In the above example, it might be that the banner can only be installed in the air, but that there are 50 rigging points that need to be attached. If you can reduce the number of rigging points it will reduce the amount of climbing that the rigger will have to undertake, and reduce the amount of time they spend climbing.
  3. Can you Isolate the hazard? Can you prevent people getting injured by a hazard by preventing them from being in the vicinity of the activity? Can you isolate the danger area?
    Example: In the above example, lets imagine that the banner can only be rigged by someone climbing a truss – we should now ensure that their work area is cordoned off, to ensure that no other workers, members of the public etc are able to walk beneath the rigger whilst they are working, to isolate them from falling objects, equipment or people.
  4. Can we use any equipment or management controls to reduce the hazard? When you’re dealing with mechanical machinery then you need to consider what engineering solutions might be available to reduce a hazard. For instance installing guards or safety switches to ensure that people can’t get caught in moving parts or turn the machine on when it could cause an injury.When dealing with people then you need to consider if additional  training or management checks could reduce the risk of an accident.
    Example: A trained & experienced forklift driver is much less likely to have an accident than someone who has never driven one before.However in addition to this, to further reduce the hazard you may consider periodic refresher training for your trained forklift driver and ensure that forklift activities are properly supervised to avoid any complacency or bad habits forming.
  5. Is there any Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) necessary for this activity? PPE is usually the last control measure to be considered once all of the other ways of reducing or eliminating the hazards have been exhausted. Eliminating, reducing or isolating a hazard is a much more effective way of making an activity safer than giving someone equipment to protect against the effects of an accident.
    Example: If there is a hazard to the crew on the ground from falling objects from someone working on a gantry above them, it’s much more effective to stop the objects falling (making the crew use tool lanyards & install toe boards on the gantry) or stop people being under falling objects (by isolating the area underneath with barriers) than it is to give someone a hard hat to reduce the force of the impact when something hits them.

    If PPE is the only option, using Event Safety Plan, you can enter what PPE you require for the activity and this will then be summarised as part of your event safety plan.

What is reasonably practical?

The Health and Safety at Work Act states that you should make efforts which are ‘reasonably practicable – but what does this mean?

Balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk.  – Health & Safety Executive

When you are planning your control measures there are of course other factors to consider aside from what is the safest way possible to complete a task. Budget, time, skills & available equipment are all important factors in deciding what is a ‘reasonably practicable’ control measure.


Take a lighting technician who has to string some festoon lightings up at a festival. It would technically be safer for him to do it from a cherry picker or a scaffold platform than a tall ladder because there would be a greatly reduced likelihood that he’d fall off.

However, it’s only a small festival and they can’t really afford a cherry picker and a scaffold tower would take too long for him to assemble and disassemble at each location. Therefore the ‘reasonably practical’ control measure in this situation would be for him to use his ladder but ensure that it’s in good condition and that he has a colleague to help carry it and foot the bottom.

What would be even better is if  he eliminated the need to climb a ladder at all and instead was able to either attach the lights to tent poles etc at ground level that then got raised into place.

Some high risk activities have specific guidance that the HSE have issued that outline industry standards and best practice. You will need to ensure that your control measures meet these minimum requirements.

How will these control measures be managed

Detail here who is responsible for ensuring that the control measures are carried out.

You could either name a specific person or a job role like the site supervisor or the production / project manager in charge of the event.

It’s important that the person responsible for ensuring that the control measures you’ve outlined is away of their responsibilities and that they have adequate training and resources to manage the activity.

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