Best Practices: Incorporating Digital Technology Into The Hierarchy Of Controls

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Executive Summary

Firms today have been making strides in reducing incident and accident rates and are doing so through both traditional and novel means. Traditionally, these safety gains have been achieved through variations of the hierarchy of controls (HOC). First introduced in 1950 by the National Safety Council (NSC), the HOC is a process by which firms identify and mitigate hazards though specific actions or alterations. In decreasing order of effectiveness, they are: direct hazard factor elimination, substitution of solutions or hazards, engineering a change, administrative actions and the usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

This report provides a comprehensive overview of identified best practices around incorporating a new approach to integrating digital technologies into the existing HOC. As it stands, digital solutions are utilized across each of the steps in the pyramid – from the integration of automation in physical operations to the incorporation of camera analytics for PPE usage – and are being leveraged to a greater degree as the technology develops. The documentation around these deployments has resulted in definitive use cases that can provide new insights to firms far along the maturity curve, as well as a roadmap for those just starting to digitize.

This report will assist corporates and vendors to understand the leading trends, drivers and best practices when it comes to current and future integrations of digital technology into the HOC.

Table of contents

Digital Technology Has Transformed How Firms Apply The Hierarchy Of Controls
Digital Technologies Have Proven Usages At Each Step In The HOC Pyramid
Foundational Methodology For Ensuring Optimal Incorporation Of Digital Technologies
Enabling Early And Holistic Change Management Is Essential To Project Success
Consider The Extended Benefits Of Digital Technologies Beyond Enterprise HOC
Digital Technology Opens The Door To Future EHS Excellence

Table of figures

Figure 1. EHS Software Usage In 2023
Figure 2. Focus On Safety
Figure 3. Hierarchy Of Controls

About the authors

Nathan Goldstein

Senior Analyst
Nathan is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice out of the New York office. His current research agenda focuses on the intersection of sustainability and ESG trends within the EHS operational sphere. Prior to joining Verdantix, Nathan worked at Bluefield Research, where he covered the global water industry, with a focus on the energy, industrial and digital segments. Nathan holds a MSc in Water: Science and Governance from King’s College London.

Bill Pennington

VP Research, EHS & Risk Management
Bill is the VP Research for the Verdantix EHS & Risk Management practices. His current agenda focuses on understanding the evolution of EHS and enterprise risk management, evaluating emerging strategic risks and benchmarking technology buyers’ budgets, priorities and preferences globally.

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