Difference Between Engineering and Administrative Controls and How They Relate to a Specific Work Environment

Discussion Prompt

As a person serving in the role of a safety practitioner, how would you explain to a new worker the difference between engineering and administrative controls and how they relate to a specific work environment?


Sample Answer – The Difference between Engineering and Administrative Controls

Engineering controls refers to physical modifications done to the work process or are which effectively reduce employees’ exposure to harm. Physical changes may include employing locks, creating more ventilation, changing the equipment, changing the texture of floors, and changing the lighting bulb among others. When the engineering controls are not feasible, administrative controls are employed. Administrative controls are non-physical changes which limit workers daily exposure to hazards by modifying the working schedule. For instance in healthcare work environment, the engineering controls can be employed to reduce hazards such as falls accidents, diagnosis errors, and errors in medication administration. Some of the changes can include replacing slippery floors with more course floors, and ensuring proper lighting on stairs and other dark corners. Other changes include the automation of the hospital information system to enhance the storage of patients’ datawhich can be referred to while making diagnosis. Others include introduction of bar code readers to match medication with the patient to avoid errors. However, this cannot solve harm caused by overworking nurses or making them work for longer hours. Other measures such as employing more nurses to reduce nurses to patient ratio, and reducing the working hours to reduce burn out would be classified as administrative controls.






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