The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced the approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE standard, “Prevention through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes” (Z590.3). This new standard provides guidance on including Prevention through Design concepts within an occupational safety and health management system, and can be applied in any occupational setting.
This standard can save lives and prevent injury. For example, as skylights become synonymous with green construction and energy conservation, we expect to see an increase in skylight installation. If skylights are designed and installed with proper guarding, deaths and injuries to workers who inadvertently fall though skylights during construction and maintenance activities could be prevented. Another example involves bailing machines used to break down cardboard for recycling in various industries. If the bailers were designed and installed with proper guarding, workers would not be able to enter the machines for trouble shooting thus preventing deaths and injuries.
Development and publication of this standard was a major goal for the NIOSH Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative. ASSE’s leadership in developing this standard and gaining ANSI approval lays the foundation for organizations to include Prevention through Design principles in their occupational safety and health management systems. The standard also provides tools for determining and achieving acceptable levels of risk to hazards that cannot be eliminated during design.
The new standard complements, but does not replace, performance objectives existing in other specific standards and procedures. The goals of applying Prevention through Design concepts in an occupational setting are to:
- achieve acceptable risk level;
- prevent or reduce occupationally related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities;
- and reduce the cost of retrofitting necessary to mitigate hazards and risks that were not sufficiently addressed in the design or redesign processes.
The newly approved standard will be available soon in print and electronically. For more information, please contact ASSE Customer Service at 847-699-2929 or email@example.com.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is also actively engaged in including Prevention through Design concepts into the revisions to (ANSI)/AIHA Z10 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems standard. Including Prevention through Design into Z10 is a natural fit since the “systems” approach to occupational health and safety enables management and worker collaboration on corrective actions, enables the “anticipation” of occupational hazards so that risks to workers from the hazards can be assessed and controlled during design, and enables the inclusion of occupational safety and health into an organization’s planning process.
We hope these efforts bring a renewed interest in Prevention through Design. We would like to hear from you. Do you have ideas on where redesign could lead to safer work environments and cost savings in your industry?
For more information about Prevention through Design, please visit the NIOSH Prevention through Design topic page.
For more information on the new standard, see the ASSE Tech Brief
Ms. Heidel, a NIOSH Research Industrial Hygienist, is the Coordinator of the PtD National Initiative.