General Principles Of Prevention

General Principles of Prevention

  • Avoiding risks (wherever possible).
  • Evaluating risks that cannot be avoided by carrying out a risk assessment.
  • Combating the risks at source, rather than taking measures to control the risk in the wider context of the workplace.
  • Adapting work to the requirements of the individual.  This applies particularly to the design of workplaces, the choice of work equipment and the choice of working and production methods, with a view, in particular, to alleviating monotonous work and work at a predetermined work-rate and to reducing its effect on health.
  • Adapting to technical progress.
  • Replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous or less dangerous.
  • Developing a coherent overall prevention policy.  This should cover technology, organisation of work, working conditions, social relationships and the influence of factors relating to the working environment.
  • Giving priority to collective protective measures over individual protective measures.
  • Giving appropriate instructions to employees.  This covers specific and general instructions, including the use of signs, training and supervision.

This list is a guideline on the way in which employers should approach the prevention and control of risks. Companies shouldl consider more specific approaches within these general principles

Collective and Individual Protective Measures

Collective protective measures are those that protect the whole workplace and everyone who works there, as opposed to individual ones which, naturally, just protect the individual. 

Collective measures are based on containing the hazard, usually through technical, engineering solutions – for example, through venting fumes out of a building – but also through general procedures and systems.  Individual solutions are based on specific training, procedures and personal protective equipment.

These two approaches give rise to the concepts of a safe place and a safe person.

  • Safe place – This refers to the environment of the workplace and is one where the emphasis is on collective protective measures in respect of the premises (including access/egress), plant, processes, materials, systems of work, supervision/training and competent personnel.
  • Safe person – This applies to an individual who, in respect of his/her job, has received adequate information, instruction and training and who adheres to safe systems of work, hygiene standards and wearing of PPE.  Such persons are conscious not only of their immediate job/task , but also of the context within which it is performed – i.e. the wider workplace and fellow workers.
Roles, Categories and Features of Safety Signs

Safety signs are defined as those combining shape, colour and pictorial symbols to convey specific health and safety information or instructions, according to accepted standards.

The standards are international so that safety signs are instantly recognisable throughout the world.  

The Regulations apply to the provision and use of all signs and signals communicating health and, particularly, safety information at work.  The coverage includes:

  • Traffic routes.
  • Illuminated signs.
  • Hand and acoustic signals.
  • Verbal communication.
  • Marking of pipework containing dangerous substances.
  • Fire safety signs (escape routes and emergency exits).
  • Identification and location of fire-fighting equipment.
  • Warning signals – for example, specified codes for hand signals for mechanical handling and directing vehicles, forms of acoustic signals, etc.

Safety signs are divided into five categories:

  • Prohibition

These are directed at stopping dangerous behaviours – for example, “No Smoking”, “Not Drinking Water”, “No Naked Lights” signs.

The signs are round or circular with the dominant colour being red (at least 35% of the area of the sign).  They have a black symbol or pictogram on a white background with a red border and diagonal cross bar.

  • Fire-fighting equipment

These signs identify particular types of equipment and locations – for example, fire extinguisher labels and hose reel instructions.

The signs are rectangular or square with the dominant colour being red (at least 50% of the area of the sign).  They have a white symbol or pictogram on a red background.

  • Warning

These indicate a need to be careful and take precautions in respect of a particular hazard – for example, high voltage electricity, slippery surface, fork lift trucks operating in the area, etc.

The signs are triangular with the dominant colour yellow (at least 50% of the area of the sign).  They have a black symbol or pictogram on a yellow background with a black border.

  • Mandatory action

These direct the taking of specific action or behaviour, usually in respect of the need to wear personal protective equipment – for example, helmets, eye protection, safety belts and harnesses, etc.  They are circular with a solid blue background with a white pictogram.

  • Safe conditions

These identify safe behaviour or places of safety – for example, drinking water, emergency wash rooms, emergency exits, first aid stations, etc.

The signs are rectangular or square with the dominant colour being green (at least 50% of the area of the sign).  They have a white symbol or pictogram on a green background.

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