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PREVENTION THROUGH DESIGN IN THE USA

NIOSH publishes plan for integrated national ‘safety by design’ initiative

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published Prevention through Design: Plan for the National Initiative. NIOSH is the US federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing job-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

The document is a statement of goals and strategies for preventing work-related injuries and illness by “designing occupational hazards out of work equipment, structures, materials, and processes”.

The plan is organised around five overarching areas:

  • research to establish the value of already- adopted prevention through design (PtD) interventions, address existing design-related challenges, and suggest areas for future examination;
  • education to help designers, engineers, employers, and others to understand and apply PtD methods;
  • practice of PtD through accessing, sharing, and applying successful strategies;
  • policy initiatives to encourage and endorse a culture that includes PtD principles in all designs affecting worker safety and health;
  • small-business focus to tailor and diffuse successful PtD programs and practices to the needs of small employers.
“Prevention through design is transformative”

NIOSH Director John Howard said:

“In many respects, PtD is a transformative concept for the 21st Century. It views investments in worker safety and health as an integral part of business efficiency and quality, rather than as a cost.

It is also a practical concept that has already been used successfully in several model applications. We look forward to working further with our partners to advance the goals outlined in the Plan.”

The Plan describes intermediate goals for each focus area and four case studies in which PtD was a principle behind successful safety and health partnerships.

Comment

In the US there no legislation equivalent to the construction designer duties under CDM Regulations 2007. However, as this new strategy document indicates there is growing understanding and promotion of the role of prevention through design in the US.

The website Design for Construction Safety provides (despite poor design of the website itself!) a useful of account of PtD as regards the US construction sector.

Useful websites for UK construction designers are Design Best Practice (DBP), SaferDesign.org and Safety in Design (SiD).

None of these sites are perfect but they do provide some practical examples that complement the official HSE guidance for designers regarding risk avoidance during the construction and use of workplace structures.    

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