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One of the best ways to prevent and control occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities is to "design out" or minimize hazards and risks early in the design process. NIOSH is leading a national initiative called Prevention through Design (PtD) to promote this concept and highlight its importance in all business decisions.

The concept of PtD can be defined as:
Addressing occupational safety and health needs in the design process to prevent or minimize the work-related hazards and risks associated with the construction, manufacture, use, maintenance, and disposal of facilities, materials, and equipment.

A growing number of business leaders are recognizing PtD as a cost-effective means to enhance occupational safety and health. Many U.S. companies openly support PtD concepts and have developed management practices to implement them. Other countries are actively promoting PtD concepts as well. The United Kingdom began requiring construction companies, project owners, and architects to address safety and health during the design phase of projects in 1994, and companies there have responded with positive changes in management practices to comply with the regulations. Australia developed the Australian National OHS Strategy 2002–2012, which set "eliminating hazards at the design stage" as one of five national priorities. As a result, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) developed the Safe Design National Strategy and Action Plans for Australia encompassing a wide range of design areas including buildings and structures, work environments, materials, and plant (machinery and equipment).


Safe Nano Design: Molecule Manufacturing Market
Date: August 14 – 16, 2012
Location: College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering of the University at Albany, Albany, NY
Event Organizer: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Prevention through Design Program and the Nanotechnology Research Center
Participants at this workshop will provide input into the safe commercialization of nano products resulting in the development of guidelines for the safe synthesis of nanoparticles and associated products, using a Prevention-through-Design approach. The workshop will focus on: efforts to develop safer nano molecules that have the same functionality; process containment and control, based on the considerations of risk of exposure to workers; and the management system approaches for including occupational safety and health into the nanoparticle synthetic process, product development, and product manufacture.

Webinar - Courtesy of the ASSE: Prevention through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Processes
November 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST, 11:00 AM CST, 10:00 AM MST, 9:00 AM PST
(90 minutes)

Prevention Through Design Conference: A New Way of Doing Business
A Report on the National Initiative
August 22-24, 2011
Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, DC

The conference marks the mid-point of the PtD National Initiative; therefore, our goal is to take stock of the Nation’s progress in improving worker safety and health through the inclusion of prevention methods in all designs that impact workers. Progress will be reported through presentations showcasing research results, engineering education enhancements, successful stakeholder practices, and policy development and advancement. An additional goal of the conference is to identify areas that require additional focus.


NIOSH has partnered with the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, Kaiser Permanente, Liberty Mutual, the National Safety Council (NSC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ORC Worldwide, and the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering for the development of a National Initiative on Prevention through Design. Other partners may be joining this national initiative soon.

Approach to PtD

The approach that will be used to develop and implement the PtD National Initiative will be framed by industry sector and within four functional areas: Research, Education, Practice, and Policy. As the chart below indicates, this process encourages stakeholder input through a sector-based approach consistent with the one used under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).

PtD Graph

The ultimate goal of the PtD initiative is to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations into all designs that impact workers. Along the way, intermediate goals will be identified to provide a path toward achieving the ultimate goal. NIOSH will serve as a catalyst to establish this Initiative, but in the end, the partners and stakeholders must actively participate in addressing these goals to make PtD business as usual in the 21st century.

Prevention through Design (PtD) Workshop

The first Prevention through Design (PtD) Workshop was held in Washington DC July 9-11, 2007 to launch a National Initiative aimed at eliminating occupational hazards and controlling risks to workers “at the source” or as early as possible in the life cycle of items or workplaces. PtD includes the design of work premises, structures, tools, plants, equipment, machinery, substances, work methods, and systems of work.

The workshop attracted approximately 225 participants from diverse industry sectors and disciplines. Day 1 began on July 9 at 1:00 p.m. with keynote and plenary speakers that spotlighted the success of PtD in several industries in the United States and internationally. Day 2 engaged participants in industry-centered breakout sessions to identify opportunities and barriers, and to develop recommendations for each industry. Day 3 included cross-industry breakout sessions that used the recommendations from the previous day to map out the top over-arching issues for PtD in Research, Education, Practice, and Policy. The output from the workshop will be used to develop a strategic plan that highlights actions and milestones to institutionalize the concept throughout the United States.

While NIOSH is coordinating the initiative, PtD is a collaborative endeavor and current partners include the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, Kaiser Permanente, Liberty Mutual, the National Safety Council, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ORC Worldwide, and the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering. The list is expected to grow.


Below are links to the agendas that were used at the workshop. The first one is a general agenda, and the second one is a more detailed set of agendas for each industry sector for the Day 2 breakout sessions.

PtD Agenda (general) [PDF - 446 KB]

PtD Agenda by Sector (day 2) [PDF - 841 KB]

PtD in Motion Newsletter

PtD in Motion is a newsletter published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to help foster communication among practitioners, researchers, and others about the tools and actions related to Prevention through Design. Each newsletter will focus on one industry sector or one of the broader functional areas: Practice, Policy, Research, or Education. Please feel free to contact the editors at with any PtD-related news or topics. We look forward to your input to make PtD in Motion truly a collaborative exchange.

PtD in Motion Newsletter, Issue 5, July 22, 2009
PDF version [PDF - 2.76 MB]

PtD in Motion Newsletter, Issue 4, June 17, 2009
PDF version [PDF - 1 MB]

PtD in Motion Newsletter, Issue 3, September 16, 2008
PDF version [PDF - 1.8 MB]

PtD in Motion Newsletter, Issue 2, June 12, 2008
PDF version [PDF - 3.05 MB]

PtD in Motion Newsletter, Issue 1, February, 2008
PtD In Motion Newsletter [PDF - 1.5 MB]


The goal of PtD is to eliminate and prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, fatalities, and exposures. Identification of design-related factors that contribute to work-related injuries and illnesses will support the design and redesign of work environments, tools, equipment, products, and work methods to ensure that hazards are eliminated or substituted and risks are minimized. NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program includes design-related factors that have contributed to workplace fatalities and recommends appropriate design modifications.

View PtD NIOSH FACE Reports.

Related NIOSH Resources

NIOSH Program Portfolio: Prevention Through Design
A comprehensive description of the Prevention Through Design Program including inputs, activities, outputs, and review and evaluation.

NIOSH Program Portfolio: Prevention Through Design - Strategic Goals

Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative

Prevention through Design: Green, Safe, and Healthy Jobs
As part of the PtD initiative, NIOSH and its partners are developing a framework to create awareness, provide guidance, and address occupational safety and health issues associated with green jobs and sustainability efforts.

Engineering Education in Occupational Safety and Health
Project SHAPE (Safety and Health Awareness for Preventive Engineering) was a collaborative project between NIOSH, engineering professional societies, and engineering schools to enhance the education of engineering students in occupational safety and health.

Other Resources

Safety in Design and Construction: A Lifecycle Approach
The Harvard School of Public Health Center for Continuing Professional Education offers a program entitled Safety in Design and Construction: A Lifecycle Approach which was created using prevention through design methodologies. This comprehensive Harvard program targets safety and pre-planning during every phase of a project. Beginning with the concept, through design, construction, and operation phases of a new facility, the program considers elimination of hazards to workers and mitigation of environmental compliance requirements. The program covers accepted strategies and best practices related to every phase of construction.

Prevention through Design: an ASSE TR-Z790.001-2009 Technical Report: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes
This Technical Report provides guidance on including prevention through design concepts and processes as a specifically identified element in a safety and health management system so that decisions pertaining to occupational risks are incorporated into the design and redesign processes, including consideration of the life cycle of facilities, materials, and equipment. The Technical Report complements but is not intended to replace existing specific standards and procedures, but rather to support those that meet the performance objectives defined in this document or other standards.

National Safety Council's Institute for Safety through Design
This organization’s mission is to reduce the risk of injury, illness and environmental damage by integrating decisions affecting safety, health and the environment in all stages of the design process.

Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) Program
This program provides teaching materials and programs to bring elements of process safety into the education of undergraduate and graduate students studying chemical and biochemical products and processes.

Design for Construction Safety
This site provides information on design as a critical aspect of construction safety, including resources and information on the OSHA Alliance Program Construction Roundtable.

Minerva Safety Management Education
Minerva is a not for profit corporation dedicated to improving business effectiveness through Safety Management Education.

Safety in Design
This UK organization provides benchmarked standards for knowledge and competence for designers.

Design Best Practice
This UK organization provides information and resources to assist people in complying with UK construction design management regulations. It includes case studies.

Australian Safety and Compensation Council
The Australian Government's Safe Design Initiative. Safe Design is a process of hazard identification and risk assessment to eliminate or minimize risk of injury through out the life of the product.

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