ASSE Position Paper on Designing for Safety

Designing For Safety (DFS) is a principle for design planning for new facilities, equipment, and operations (public and private) to conserve human and natural resources, and thereby protect people, property and the environment. DFS advocates systematic process to ensure state-of-the-art engineering and management principles are used and incorporated into the design of facilities and overall operations to assure safety and health of workers, as well as protection of the environment and compliance with current codes and standards.

DFS recognizes that there are trade-offs affecting management goals and basic requirements that go beyond local expectations. DFS requires a systems approach, a full understanding of risks and human capabilities, including effects on human health and well-being, and the environment.

Accordingly, DFS includes the following parameters:

  • Observance of safe containment or substitution of materials and/or equipment, which may adversely affect the health and well-being of the public and the worker, or may impact the environment;
  • Designing out hazards and minimizing risks of injury through properly selected safeguards, controls, and barriers most appropriate for the operation, process or activity involved;
  • Requiring that a facility or process be assessed in terms of risk minimization, energy requirements and environmental effects throughout its life cycle;
  • Recognizing resource limitations and transformations, which occur in production/operations and their end products; Assuring that users (operators) are adequately informed of hazards and trained to perform with freedom from harm.

Architects, engineers, designers, code officials, safety and health professionals play a major role in DFS. Managers must be informed of their responsibilities in maintaining programs that assure safe design and systems to protect the worker, the public and the environment. ASSE members are dedicated professionals with the expertise and knowledge to perform the many functions and actions covered in this statement.

Implementation of DFS in the workplace requires the same approach and organization as demanded by a quality assurance process, i.e., an interdisciplinary approach with a "conceptual design to final decommissioning" perspective. Contract specifications and statements of work should incorporate guidance that addresses the DFS parameters contained in this Position Paper from the construction phase through the operational life of a facility or system, and also describe the methods of disposing of waste and decommissioning the facility after its useful life.

Industry, government and academia, with public endorsement, should forge a partnership to encourage and provide education on DFS. Laws relative to safety, health and the environment are numerous and are continuously being modified. When appropriate, both existing and new laws and regulations should be structured to incorporate the philosophy of DFS and recognize its benefits. ASSE will provide the leadership needed to encourage development and training to establish DFS objectives.

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