NIOSH is leading a national initiative, launched in July 2007, called Prevention Through Design (PTD). This initiative has engaged the government, academia and industry in promoting the concept of designing out and minimizing occupational risks. Following is a comprehensive definition of PTD:
The optimal method of preventing occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities is to "design out" the hazards and risks; thereby, eliminating the need to control them during work operations. This approach involves the design of tools, equipment, systems, work processes and facilities in order to reduce or eliminate, hazards associated with work. (Young-Corbett, 2011)
The purpose of PTD is to eliminate hazards and reduce risk at the source by considering safety and health implications early in the design cycle; this is more effective than the traditional risk management approach. PTD principles also tie in with the well-known hierarchy of controls where engineering controls are always the most effective, because they either remove the hazard at its root, or contain or isolate the hazard so that exposures are controlled through design. PTD supports the adoption of hazard control measures higher in the hierarchy of controls by focusing on hazard elimination and substitution followed by risk minimization through the application of engineering controls and warning systems applied during design, redesign and retrofit activities. However, PTD also supports the application of administrative controls and PPE when they supplement or complement an overall risk minimization strategy and include appropriate program development, implementation, employee training and surveillance (Schulte & Heidel, 2009)
As awareness of the PTD concept grows, more SH&E professionals are calling for a concerted emphasis on the engineering and technical aspects of a safe design during the planning phase, which reduces risks and minimizes hazards throughout a facility's life. This requirement is illustrated by a recent request for proposal for work at the Ports-mouth Naval Shipyard that specified, "If it is not feasible to eliminate or prevent the need to work at heights with its subsequent exposure to fall hazards, control measures shall be included in the de-sign to protect personnel conducting maintenance work after completion of the project."