Prevention Through Design
When a new product is produced or a new procedure introduced into the work place, how do we know it’s safe? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Young-Corbett: I’m working in a field called prevention through design.
Deborah Young-Corbett is an assistant professor at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.
Young-Corbett: This is a relatively new field in engineering where the engineers factor in risk reduction into the design process. So that ultimately their end products will have little or no risks to the end user, the general public and the environment.
The term originated in the occupational safety and health realm to think about designing systems and tools that would not present a hazard to the workers who were going to use the equipment.
This concept of prevention through design is being advocated by the Nat Institute for Occupational Safety and Health a federal agency. So that when engineers go out into the workforce and design various things, they will have this in their minds, that they should be thinking about what risks their designs might pose.
And those risks can be anything: an explosion risk, a safety risk where workers may fall from height or a building may collapse on workers. Or, I tend to focus more on health risks such as noise and dust and things that can cause disease.
Our hope is that the engineers who leave our engineering undergraduate program, when they go out into practice designing, that they will have a holistic approach and they will think about all of the risks.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner