Over the past 60 years, systems safety techniques have evolved from their early uses in military and aerospace industries to their present day applications in a variety of workplaces including chemical manufacturers and petrochemical manufacturers. The approaches have evolved from trial and error methods to identify potential problems with the system to analyses throughout the system lifecycle with an emphasis on utilizing engineering approaches to eliminate hazards.1 Systems safety analysis applications have evolved from determining the reliability of equipment used in a weapons system to determining the probability that a worker will perform a particular job task safely.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits safety degree programs in the United States. It has established as one of their outcomes for students graduating with a degree in safety sciences the following: 2
Students shall demonstrate knowledge of systems safety and associated analytical techniques. They should have an ability to analyze and interpret data, anticipate, identify, and evaluate hazardous conditions and practices and have an ability to develop hazard control designs, methods, procedures and programs.
To meet these curriculum requirements, systems safety courses and laboratory exercises should teach students to the fundamentals of the discipline and provide the students with an opportunity to apply the various systems safety analyses and techniques. The course at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is comprised of a two-hour weekly lecture and a three-hour laboratory. Through feedback from advisory group meetings and employers, it became apparent to faculty that many students obtain employment with systems safety responsibilities to varying degrees. Graduates find that today's modern workplace is using software packages to complete many of their systems safety analyses. Systems safety software analysis tools have become popular in industry because they reduce the time needed to complete and analysis, they result in fairly consistent results when used by multiple users, and they allow the user to update the hazard analyses without much effort. Systems safety software is especially used is the chemical industries, hydrocarbon industries, and similar industries using complex and hazardous processes. After gaining an understanding of how to conduct various process hazard analyses, students should have some exposure to the systems safety software used in industry as part of their classroom preparation. This paper discusses the process that Indiana University of Pennsylvania uses to incorporate systems safety software into the undergraduate systems safety coursework.
While there are a number of programs to choose from, PHAWorks 5.0 was identified as being most user friendly, most widely used by industries in area, and readily available for installation in the safety sciences computer laboratory. PHAWorks 5.0 is a specialized software tool for conducting PHA studies on a system.3 It is a Windows based application that can be loaded onto individual machines or as in the case at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Department of Safety Sciences, installed on a server. The software guides the user, step-by-step, through the analysis process.