The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's new Engineering Controls Database provides information on effective engineering controls that can protect workers by eliminating or reducing hazardous conditions.

The database is based on a hierarchy of controls ranked in order of effectiveness.

Hirearchy of ControlsWell-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and frequently lower operating costs over the longer term.

The database can be searched by occupation or work process to find a solution that may work to control the exposure in your workplace.

Advantages of Engineering Controls

Engineering controls protect workers by removing hazardous conditions or by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard.

Examples include local exhaust ventilation to capture and remove airborne emissions or machine guards to shield the worker.

Well-designed controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and will typically be independent of worker interactions.

They typically do not interfere with worker productivity or personal comfort and make the work easier to perform rather than more difficult.

The initial cost can be higher than some other control methods, but over the longer term, operating costs are frequently lower, and in some instances, can provide a cost savings in other areas of the process.

Administrative controls and personal protective equipment are frequently used with existing processes where hazards are not particularly well controlled.

Administrative controls and PPE programs may be relatively inexpensive to establish but, over the long term, can be very costly to sustain. These methods for protecting workers have also proven to be less effective than other measures, requiring significant effort by the affected workers.