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US ‘PREVENTION THROUGH DESIGN’ STANDARD PUBLISHED

New standard aims to improve avoidance of risk through design on US projects

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has announced 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).

The standard is one output from a wider NIOSH Prevention through Design National Initiative. The goals of Prevention through Design 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 standard provides guidance on how to include Prevention through Design in a health and safety management system. The focus is on the avoidance, elimination, reduction and control of risk in the design and redesign process, including construction, manufacture, use, and maintenance.

A key element of the standard is 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:  pre-operational, operational, post incident and post-operational stages and provides tools for determining and achieving acceptable levels of risk to hazards that cannot be eliminated during design.

A summary of the standard is available. Contact ASSE Customer Service customerservice@asse.org to purchase the full standard.

Comment

The document may be of interest to those with designer obligations under CDM Regulations 2007. At present there is no equivalent legal duty in the US. The standard appears to suggest use and recording of quantitative assessment of hazards and probability of harm. This contrasts with the more ‘relaxed’ approach in the UK where:

“designers are not legally required to keep records of the process through which they achieve a safe design, but it can be useful to record why certain key decisions were made. Brief records of the points considered, the conclusions reached, and the basis for those conclusions, can be very helpful when designs are passed from one designer to another. This will reduce the likelihood of important decisions being reversed by those who may not fully understand the implications of doing so”. (CDM 2007 ACOP)

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