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ASSE oks standard for Prevention Through Design

September 20, 2011
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ASSEThe American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has approved what it calls a groundbreaking standard on prevention through design.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE Z590.3 standard,  ‘Prevention through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes,’ provides guidance on including prevention through design concepts within an occupational safety and health management system, and can be applied in any occupational setting.

The Z590.3 standard focuses on the avoidance, elimination, reduction and control of occupational safety and health hazards and risks in the design and redesign process. Through the application of the concepts presented in the standard, decisions about occupational hazards and risks can be incorporated into the process of design and redesign of work areas, tools, equipment, machinery, substances and work processes. Design and redesign also includes construction, manufacture, use, maintenance and disposal of reuse of equipment used on-the-job.

“One of the key elements of this standard is that it provides guidance for ‘life-cycle’ assessments and a design model that balances environmental and occupational safety and health goals over the life span of a facility, process or product,” according to a statement from the ASSE. The Z590.3 covers the four key stages of occupational risk management: pre-operational, operational, post incident and post operational.

Fred Manuele, CSP, P.E., chaired the Z590.3 committee that developed the standard. “This standard supports and gives guidance for the well-established premise that occupational hazards and risks are most effectively and economically avoided, eliminated or controlled in the design and redesign process,” Manuele said.

Development and publication of this standard was a major goal for the NIOSH Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative. The standard also provides tools for determining and achieving acceptable levels of risk to hazards that cannot be eliminated during design.

Z590.3 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.

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