ASSE's Prevention Through Design Standard Initiative

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Addressing the fact that workplace incidents can be prevented through design, such as during the designing and construction of a new manufacturing plant, the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) recently launched the Z790 Standards Initiative to develop the “Prevention Through Design (PTD): Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes” standard. Basically, PTD (or safety through design) is defined as the integration of hazard analysis and risk assessment methods early in the design and engineering stages and taking the actions necessary so risks of injury or damage are prevented. “This is a major move for ASSE as our members have been discussing and acting on this issue for many years and it will be the first ASSE stand-alone standard the society will publish,” ASSE Vice President-Council on Practices and Standards George Pearson said following the approval of the ASSE Board of Directors to move forward. “This is a key issue for the SH&E profession.” ASSE members note that recent studies indicate that approximately 40% of work-related fatalities are design related. PTD is described as an approach that can eliminate or reduce work-related hazards by designing them out of the project. The new PTD ASSE standard will assist SH&E professionals and others to increase their knowledge on the occupational safety, health and environmental issues in the design/ redesign process and address how to prevent or minimize work-related hazards associated with facilities, materials, and equipment during: construction, manufacture, use, maintenance and disposal/demolition. ASSE’s PTD technical report, available now, provides guidance on PTD concepts and processes as a specifically identified element in a safety and health management system so that decisions pertaining to occupational risks are incorporated into the design and redesign processes, including consideration of the life cycle of facilities, materials, and equipment. “PTD is a major issue. Our ASSE Standards Development Committee, made up of standards and SH&E experts from around the world, recommended that a motion go before the ASSE board to develop the Z790 initiative,” Pearson added. “We believe this will have a positive impact on preventing work injuries and illnesses.”

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