The Problem

History has shown that just realizing something needs to be done is not the fix; you have to be willing to reject ideas that fail to meet the goal. The traditional methodology for addressing safety for facilities, machines, or products is for owners, architects, engineers, consultants, contractors and vendors to complete the design, engineering, construction or fabrication of a project based on past knowledge, experience, and training. Safety, though, has typically not been one of the required skills for all project participants.

Furthermore, the norm has not been to consider the safety of the people performing site work, construction, maintenance, fabrication, operation, and decommissioning at the conceptual stage. Rather, each party has been left to consider and create an individual safety strategy for their portion of the project activity. The focus of identified safety hazards remains on how the exposed worker can abate or avoid the hazard rather than how the design team, during the design stage, can eliminate the creation of that hazard or provide a safe work process.

As safety professionals, our mantra should be nothing less than Sustainable Safety, which can be defined as integrating safety methods throughout the life cycle of a project, process or machine. A key element to Sustainable Safety is the ability to identify and address foreseeable hazards with effective countermeasure integration. So why do the "Commonly Used Statistics" from the United States Department of Labor paint such a bleak picture?

  • Yearly, 3.3 million people are injured at work.

  • Monthly, there are 62 construction related deaths.

  • Weekly, disabling injuries cost employers over $1 billion.

  • Daily, 12 people die on the job.

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