Introduction

Safety practitioners daily face mergers, globalization, downsizing, national and international uncertainty, terrorism, increased workers compensation costs, boosting revenue-generating activities, cost savings actions, and advancements in technology. There is a growing burden of effort and expectations expressed by many in the field, and it is with trepidation that further thoughts are offered, but they are felt significant to the future of practitioners. The concern relates to the fact that time is precious, it translates into dollars, and the time from project concept to being operational is being reduced substantially. Services including engineering are outsourced overseas to cut budgets. It is getting downright scary.

Practitioners must be prepared to face today's accelerated project design schedules and deal with overseas development of tomorrow's designs. They must understand design technology change. Practitioner surveys do not detect trends or concern for technology change; rather priorities appear to exist in the continuing basic areas of training, hazard communication, lockout, and personal protective equipment (ISHN Survey). Seriously, if the first review of a new process or piece of equipment is justprior to production, or when a prototype has been prepared, or with a new automated warehouse just before it is operational, or new hotel just before it is scheduled for occupancy, or similar late stage activity, safety operations continue to be in a retrofit mode. Perhaps practitioners will appear as a dinosaur in management's eyes and find a promising career extinct. It is time to revitalize!

Note: 'Safety' herein is used in the broadest sense, including fire, health, ergonomics, environmental, emergency planning, and security.

"Project" is used to include facilities, processes, products, or new equipment.

Safety Through Design is defined in the book of that title as: 'The integration of hazard analysis and risk assessment methods early in the design and engineering stages and the taking of the actions necessary so that the risks of injury or damage are at an acceptable level.' Implied in this definition is the practice of considering safety from the design phase through construction and use, and on to disassembly, disposal or recycling.

This presentation will contribute to the following learning outcomes:

  1. Recognition of the global technology changes occurring in the world of design.

  2. Understanding the urgency of being involved in the design stage of projects.

  3. Techniques to interface with design engineers.

  4. Methodology to acquire personal engineering information, and safety tools for the engineering department.

  5. Principles to aid in change leadership in design engineering.

Recently Willing wrote, "Difficult Change. Some might find this phrase redundant. Isn't all change difficult? Isn't it just human nature to resist change, no matter how much the change is needed? Making effective change requires work commitment and a reasonable plan to obtain it." Changing the technological information level as a safety practitioner may result in 'difficult change' for these individuals. It will require a plan, commitment and work, but the benefits should be plentiful.

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