New ANSI/ASSE Standard Focuses on Prevention Through Design

Sept. 19, 2011
A new ANSI/ASSE standard will address occupational hazards not just on site or after an incident occurs, but from the beginning – in the design process.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced the new standard, “Prevention through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes,” or American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE Z590.3. The standard focuses on eliminating and controlling hazards in the design (or redesign) process and can be applied to any occupational setting, ASSE said.

The Z590.3 standard encourages decisions about workplace risks and hazards that can be used in the design and redesign efforts of tools, equipment, machinery, work areas, processes and substances. Design and redesign also includes construction, manufacture, use, maintenance and disposal of reuse of equipment used on-the-job.

“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,” said Fred Manuele, CSP, P.E., chair of the Z590.3 committee.

Z590.3 also 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: pre-operational, operational, post-incident and post-operational stages. Finally, the standard provides tools for determining and achieving acceptable levels of risk to hazards that cannot be eliminated during design.

To successfully apply prevention-through-design concepts entails achieving acceptable risk levels; preventing or reducing work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities; and reducing the cost of retrofitting necessary to mitigate hazards that were not sufficiently addressed in the design or redesign process.

ASSE adds that Z590.3 complements, but does not replace, performance objectives that exist in other specific standards and procedures.

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