SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety
Prevention efforts and resolution of safety concerns
should be a prime focus in the design phase of facilities,
equipment and products as well as in process
changes. Safety through design requires the integration of
hazard analysis and risk assessment methods early in the
design and engineering stages and mandates that actions be
taken to reduce the risks of injury or damage to an acceptable
level. Safety must be a “pre-thought,” one that is
embedded in the design phase, rather than an after thought.
Safety professionals must market their skill set and not
wait to be asked to join the design and build team. Safety
professionals must link their work to measures important
to their organization and must recognize that safe operations
do not simply occur.
Why aren’t safety and health personnel involved in the
design stage? Some companies state their safety team
may have a lack of technical and software knowledge. This
may cause engineers to shy away from the safety staff’s
involvement. The safety staff must improve their knowledge,
and therefore their value to the design effort. Safety
professionals who wish to enhance their careers and their
worth to the company should consider changing their
approach to the goal of a safe and healthful workplace
and recognize that it cannot be accomplished unless retrofitting
is essentially eliminated by incorporating safety into
the design stage of every project.
Design software has made it possible to eliminate the
costs of prototypes and models. The safety professional
must make the engineering design team aware that safety
must fit into the beginning and insist the engineering
team keep in mind the aging workforce and ergonomics;
as well as physical limitations of employees during the initial
stages of design.
Safety personnel must create a proactive impact on the
design process and also keep in mind safe maintenance practices,
after the machinery is on the production floor.
Thousands of work hours are spent on the maintenance of
machinery, and designing in a safety method to achieve proper
maintenance procedures makes sense in the initial stages,
not after the product or machine has hit the production floor.
Safety professionals must help engineers develop knowledge
of safety, not just instruct design engineers to follow
OSHA/ANSI or the company safety manual. The safety
team must make the design team understand that zero
injuries is the ultimate objective of the project. If safety is
embedded into the design, zero injuries will be achievable.
Management should be encouraged to be involved from
the very beginning and they must show their support for
the safety of the employees as well as the efficiency of the
Safety professionals must develop credibility; add innovative
and proactive solutions to the design process and
they will provide an invaluable contribution to the end
result. No more retrofitting; design-in safety from day one!
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.