When I submitted a proposal in June 2006 to be a speaker at the 2007 ASSE Professional Development Conference, it seemed appropriate for my presentation to relate only to the long term career implications of the safety through design provisions in the standard that is becoming commonly known as Z10. The formal designation for this American National Standard is ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 and its title is Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.

But, having the opportunity since I submitted a speaker's proposal to reflect on several national and international developments that further the application of safety through design principles, I will broaden the scope of this paper to encompass them. I ask your indulgence as I do so. In this paper, I will:

  • Discuss the origin of the term safety through design, define it, and comment on its concept and application

  • Indicate how "safety through design" may be transitioning into "prevention through design" because of a NIOSH initiative

  • Review safety through design provisions in ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005

  • Comment on national and international developments relating to safety through design

  • Present my views on the implications the safety through design provisions in Z10 have, long term, on the knowledge and skills that safety professionals will be expected to have

Safety Through Design

In 1995, the National Safety Council created an Institute for Safety Through Design in response to encouragement by several people who recognized, through their studies of incident investigation reports, that design causal factors were not adequately addressed. For example, my studies indicated that although there were implications of workplace or work methods design inadequacies in over 35 percent of the incident investigation reports I analyzed, they were not being addressed. Had the quality of those incident investigation reports been higher, the design causal factors would more than likely have been at a higher level. Some industry specific accident studies show that in as many of 60 percent of cases, design causal factors were apparent, and glossed over.

My colleagues and I also observed that designing for safety was inadequately addressed in the popular safety literature. And we noted that safety and health management system outlines infrequently included safety through design procedures.

The Advisory Committee for the Institute for Safety Through Design, the membership of which represented industry, academia, and organized labor, arrived at the following definition.

Safety Through Design

The integration of hazard analysis and risk assessment methods early in the design and engineering stages and taking the actions necessary so that risks of injury or damage are at an acceptable level.

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