NIOSH’s Engineering Controls DatabasePosted on by
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The hierarchy of controls shows us that engineering controls can protect workers by eliminating or reducing hazardous conditions to acceptable exposure levels. The idea behind the hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following the hierarchy of controls can lead to safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced. Examples of controls include elimination, substitution, local exhaust ventilation to capture and remove airborne emissions, or machine guards to protect the worker. Well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers. Controls generally do not interfere with worker productivity or personal comfort and make the work easier to perform rather than more difficult. The initial cost of engineering controls can be higher than some other protective methods, but over the longer term, operating costs are frequently lower, and in some instances, can provide a cost savings. The new NIOSH Engineering Controls Database provides information on effective engineering controls. You can search by occupation or work process to find a solution that may work to control the exposure in your workplace.
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was established in 1970, NIOSH has been developing valuable information, best practices and guidance on engineering control technologies tested during laboratory and field research. These control technologies have been published in a variety of reports, publications and journal articles, but never in a single repository. Most of these publications are accessible through the NIOSH website; however, to have found the design and operating specifications of an engineering control, you must have (1) known that they exist, (2) known where to search, (3) known exact keywords to use in your search, and (4) read through sometimes lengthy, comprehensive reports to find the details on the control. To make the control information more accessible, a database was created to collectively house all the engineering control material. The database is easy to search, and the control pages are easy to read and understand.
The NIOSH Engineering Control Database contains summaries and schematics/pictures of the controls and details about their effectiveness. The objective of the database is to provide basic information on engineering control technologies as well as deliver information to users who need engineering control solutions to reduce or eliminate worker exposures. The database contains only previously published material authored by NIOSH researchers. All database entries have been reviewed and edited by subject matter experts for accuracy. Please submit your comments or questions below or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brennan Lockwood, Pathways Summer Student, is a Health Administrative Assistant in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.
Trudi McCleery, MPH, is a health communication specialist in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.