Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Step 4: Assess & Compare

Systematically comparing the hazard, cost, and performance of different alternatives will enable you to make an informed decision. This step will help you assess and compare alternatives.

Key Questions

To prioritize alternatives for further assessment, consider:
  • What are the performance requirements of the chemical or process?
  • Do specific alternatives present a high risk to worker safety and health?
When assessing and comparing alternatives, consider:
  • What health and safety criteria (toxicological and physical properties) need to be compared?
  • Will workers experience changes to the performance of their work tasks when using the alternative, including any changes to the use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE? Will workers experience changes in exposure when using the alternative? Will these changes present new/different hazards to workers?
  • What performance criteria need to be compared?
  • What costs need to be compared?


Once alternatives are identified, it is often necessary to prioritize them for further assessment. Focusing the work on the most promising alternatives is an effective way to use limited resources and avoid unnecessary research and evaluation.

Prioritizing alternatives based first on performance can help to narrow the scope of alternatives to those that have the potential to be effectively implemented in the workplace while maintaining process and product quality. To identify performance requirements for the chemical, material, or product that you are looking to replace, the planning team should consider what the chemical, material, or product needs to do and whether there are specific technical and engineering design constraints. Other functional requirements, such as quality criteria and customer or legal requirements for technical acceptability should also be considered.

Before further evaluating your options, you may also consider deprioritizing those alternatives that may result in new hazards or will not substantially improve worker safety and health. You can use existing restricted substances lists, authoritative lists of priority chemicals, and lists of chemicals of concern to rapidly identify alternatives that present worker safety and health concerns, are inconsistent with company goals, or may be subject to legal or consumer restrictions. While these options should not be the first you evaluate, they should not be completely eliminated from consideration. If you find, after further research and evaluation, that none of your first choice alternatives will work, you may decide to reconsider those options that, while having some concerns, could still be safer and healthier for workers in a particular application.

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