NIOSHA session at ASSE’s Safety 2013 focused on, “Integrating Risk Management and Prevention Through Design Standards,” and ASSE has been beating the drum in support of what’s known as PtD. Presenters were Georgi I. Popov, PhD., QEP, University of Central Missouri, Overland Park, KS; and John N. Zey, Ed.D., CIH, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO.

A second session on PtD: “Prevention through Design - Slips, Trips and Falls,” by Wayne S. Maynard, CSP, CPE, ALCM, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Hopkinton, MA, emphasizes facility design not addressed in the International Building Codes and ADA. Applying human factors with Prevention through Design strategies starting with walkway surface material selection; use of color and contrast at transitions; planning pedestrian travel into a facility, stairway; and entrance design was discussed.

Writing in an ASSE newsletter, Fred A. Manuele wrote of a definition arrived at during a 2007 workshop: “Prevention through Design (PtD) addresses occupational safety and health needs in the design and redesign processes to prevent or minimize the work-related hazards and risks associated with the construction, manufacture, use, maintenance, and disposal of facilities, materials and equipment.”

Manuele said the probability that OSHA could promulgate a standard or regulation on PtD is remote, and that is putting it mildly. It’s not even on the agency’s radar.

In the meantime, NIOSH has taken the lead advocating PtD. NIOSH’s web site devotes an entire section to PtD. In 2011, NIOSH stated:

“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.

“The new standard focuses specifically 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 or 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. The standard focuses on the four key stages of occupational risk management. The pre-operational, operational, post incident and post-operational stages are all addressed within.

“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.”