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SAFETY

A teacher assistant's guide to controlling risk

teacher aide supervising a learning activity

A teacher assistant's guide to controlling risk

According to Safe Work Australia (2012) “The most efficient way of controlling risks is to eliminate a hazard, so far as is reasonably practicable. If not reasonably practicable the next step is to minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable…”

The Hierarchy of Control (HOC) is a system which outlines out the best way to deal with a hazard and control the risk. There are 6 stages in the HOC. When you see a hazard, you should try and use step 1. If step 1 is not possible, you should then use step 2 and so forth.

Elimination
Get rid of it! This is the most effective method to control the hazards and involves removing the hazard completely. Examples include:

  • filling in a hole to eliminate a tripping hazard
  • removing broken furniture by throwing it in the bin

Substitution
Replacing the hazard with a less dangerous alternative. Examples include:

  • substituting a toxic glue for a less toxic type
  • swapping broken equipment with new better-quality equipment

Isolation
Prevent others from getting close to the hazard. Examples include:

  • place physical barriers around the hazard
  • lock away hazardous chemicals

Engineering controls
Also known as redesigning or modifying. This involves changing a process or tool in order to make it safer. Examples include:

  • placing covers or guards on equipment
  • raising a table or bench height to reduce bending and potential back injuries

Administrative controls
Using signs, rules and training in an effort to make the environment safer. Examples include:

  • painting trip hazards such as steps and slopes
  • placing signs in areas to warn of dangers
  • providing additional training to staff and users

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
It may not be the coolest look in the world but wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing (safety gear) is essential. PPE includes:

  • safety glasses (science lab, art room, manual arts)
  • sunglasses, hat, sunscreen
  • gloves (cleaning, protection from bodily fluids, home economics)
  • goggles (science lab, manual arts)
  • respirators and masks (manual arts)
  • ear muffs (manual arts)
  • fluro coloured vests/first aid equipment belts (for playground duty).

Hint: You must use PPE if it is provided to you and the task requires it. It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with adequate PPE.

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