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Step 4: Define

What do I have to define?

In order to reduce the identified risk, you must determine your protection goals and define suitable measures for eliminating or sufficiently limiting the determined hazards. These are technical, organisational and person-related occupational safety and health measures, see the example provided by the occupational safety and health administration of North-Rhine Westphalia Define measures. Defining protection goals that are as specific as possible will help you to control the efficiency of the defined measures.

Are there criteria for selecting measures?

When selecting occupational safety and health measures, orient on the so-called S-T-O-P principle. The abbreviation STOP stands for

“S” substitution,
“T” technical measures,
“O” organisational measures, and
“P” person- and behaviour-related safety measures.

The sequence of this list also corresponds to the order of measures to be performed.

The best measure always is to avoid or completely eliminate the hazard. For example, substances hazardous to health should be substituted by more harmless substances.

If this is not possible, the hazard must be kept as low as possible. Typically, technical solutions (for example closed-loop systems, safer methods, etc.) are most effective in the field of occupational safety and health.

They take priority over organisational regulations and person- and behaviour-related safety measures. This includes occupational healthcare, regular instructions of the employees, as well as the use of suitable protective equipment, for example. As a matter of principle, constantly wearing personal protective equipment should only be a short-term temporary solution.

Always take the measures according to the following sequence:

  • design procedures in such a way that there is no hazard, eliminate hazard sources (“S”)
  • eliminate or reduce hazards by using safeguards, preferably with a compulsory effect (“T”)
  • minimise the health risk by lowering intensity and duration of the exposure, respectively, by means of technical or work-organisational measures (“O”)
  • wear the personal protective equipment or apply the code of conduct (“P”)

Please note: The legislator formulates general principles in the § 4 Safety and Health at Work Act you should take into consideration when selecting the measures:

  1. the work must be designed in such a way that any hazard for life and health is avoided as far as possible and the remaining hazard is kept as low as possible
  2. hazards must be tackled at the source
  3. the measures must take into consideration the state of the art, the occupational healthcare, and hygiene, as well as any other established occupational research
  4. measures must be planned with the goal of connecting technology, organisation of work, other working conditions, social relationships, and the influence of the environment on the workstation in a proper manner
  5. individual protective measures are subordinate to other measures
  6. specific hazards for groups of employees requiring particular protection must be taken into consideration
  7. the employees must be instructed appropriately
  8. direct or indirect gender-specifically effective regulations are only admissible if this is absolutely necessary due to biological reasons

Where do I start?

Initially take measures for eliminating the hazards affecting the employees most, specifically in high-risk working areas and for activities where accident and health hazards are likely.

Define additional measures regarding their urgency, chronological and practical feasibility.

Characteristic features of risky working areas or activities include, for example,

  • frequent occurrence of malfunctions regarding the operational sequence,
  • striking absenteeism,
  • frequency of accidents and sick leave,
  • frequent faulty actions,
  • activities that must be performed monotonously,
  • activities that very frequently must be performed under time pressure,
  • poor working atmosphere,
  • high-fluctuation areas,
  • poor quality of work.

What do I have to document?

Document the measures to be performed using a corresponding work sheet, see the example provided by the occupational safety and health administration of North-Rhine Westphalia: Define measures. Your entry must be correct to the point that the persons in charge can award work orders with the help of this entry.