Ergonomics and Prevention Through Design – What a Concept!

The first I saw of “Prevention Through Design” was an introduction by Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH, in 2008 in the Journal of Safety Research. As Dr. Howard stated, and as we know as safety professionals, one of the most effective ways to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses is to “design out” risks and hazards early on in the design process. This is the case for safety in general, and certainly for ergonomics as well. NIOSH has been leading this effort and has partnered with several organizations to move this initiative forward.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is one of those organizations, and together with ANSI published “Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Processes” in 2011.

So where are we at with this “Prevention Through Design” concept? Is this something your company is practicing? Is your ergonomics program being managed with a “Prevention” approach? Has progress been made over the past 5 years in this area? Has your management been receptive to this “design to prevent” concept? To me it makes so much sense, but I see many barriers out in industry, and I’d like to hear from others about the challenges, barriers and of course successes they’ve experienced – within the area of safety, but particularly within the area of ergonomics. We can all learn from it. Let me know how it’s going!