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Inputs: NIOSH Strategic Goals

The ideas and discussions that came out of the PtD Workshop (along with input from the NORA Sector Councils) serve as the basis for the PtD Plan for the National Initiative . The Plan provides a road map to the nation for integrating prevention considerations into all designs that affect the health and safety of workers. The NORA Sector Councils, in conjunction with the PtD Council, identify sector-specific goals that can be accomplished by implementing enhanced prevention-based designs. The Plan is aligned with the Strategic Agendas being developed for the NORA sectors. This alignment ensures that the PtD goals become integral to the Sector Agendas. Many issues raised at the sector level apply to more than one industry. The Plan captures these issues within the cross-sector focus areas of Research, Education, Practice, and Policy. Small Business was added as an additional focus for goal development to address the unique challenges of applying PtD methods to small business operations, processes and environments. Each of these overarching areas, as well as the small business focus area, is supported by a strategic goal. Details about specific activities for accomplishing each goal, as well as performance measures and time frames, are included in the PtD Plan for the National Initiative .

Research Strategic Goal
Research establishes the value of adopted PtD interventions, address existing design-related challenges, and suggest areas for future research.

Research focuses on: Design factors that effectively reduce occupational morbidity and mortality; Metrics that assess the impact of these design factors; Methods that diffuse effective designs; and, Economic and business issues. Research topics address the following questions:

  • Do we have evidence that proposed designs effectively eliminate hazards and reduce risks to workers?
  • Do we understand the role design plays in each sector’s serious injury, illness, fatality and exposure experience?
  • What are the motivators for, and barriers to, effective implementation of PtD?
  • Can we define effective business cases for implementing PtD?
  • How do we influence a culture change toward designing for worker safety and health?

Questions such as these prompt the need for specific research by qualified investigators at universities, research institutes, organizations and corporations. The answers advance the efforts being conducted under the education, practice, and policy goals.

Education Strategic Goal
Designers, engineers, machinery and equipment manufacturers, health and safety (H&S) professionals, business leaders, and workers understand PtD methods and apply this knowledge and skills to the design and re-design of new and existing facilities, processes, equipment, tools, and organization of work.

Education focuses on motivating and equipping professional communities to continually increase their capacity to identify health hazards and assess and minimize risks for worker safety and health. Knowledge of PtD and skills acquisition occur through enhanced design and engineering curricula as well as through improved professional accreditation programs that value PtD knowledge and skills and include them in their competency assessments. Making business leaders aware of the potential for increasing company profitability by incorporating prevention through design methods into their systems and processes is also an important component of the Education goal.

PtD requires the development and implementation of a broad educational framework adapted to the full range of occupational disciplines and educational settings involved in supporting the PtD Initiative. The educational objectives and content vary significantly based on the individual discipline or education setting. For example, the educational needs of the mechanical engineer are significantly different from those of the architect, industrial designer, purchasing agent, or finance professional. However, there are common PtD themes underlying this broad educational framework. Fundamental to the concept of risk management is the ability to accurately assess risk and recommend acceptable risk levels through the application of the hierarchy of controls. Educating professionals in all design-related occupational disciplines in the determination of acceptable risk and subsequent communication to management is vital to the success of PtD. Furthermore, the educational framework must address the needs of students at the beginning of their careers, as well as those of experienced professionals. For students, PtD educational material could be integrated into existing courses, textbooks, and certifications. For experienced professionals, PtD concepts could be delivered via professional development courses, continuing education seminars, and journal publications. PtD knowledge, skills and information must also reach small business owners who may not have access to professional development courses. This may be accomplished by utilizing various business and trade associations as well as through product and service suppliers. Finally, but no less important, PtD education must reach the worker. Novel educational formats, such as web-based video clips, could broaden our reach to workers in all industrial sectors and in large and small workplaces.

Practice Strategic Goal
Stakeholders access, share, and apply successful PtD practices.

Practice focuses on identifying and sharing successful procedures, processes, equipment and tools through on-line databases and other media. Practice also includes demonstrating the value of including workers’ health and safety in design decisions and exploring links with the movement towards sustainability.

The effort required to implement the successful practice of PtD should not be underestimated. Examples of needed actions to promote the practice of PtD include:

  • Developing business cases that are compelling to business leaders;
  • Accurately assessing risks inherent to various designs, processes, or procedures; and
  • Designing successful tools and equipment (e.g., fall protection systems or machine guarding).

A web-based system that utilizes standardized evaluation criteria to share successful PtD processes, procedures, tools, and equipment is essential to the practice of PtD. Methods for identifying tools and equipment that include safety and health design elements must be developed to guide not only businesses, but also consumers.

Workers also play a key role in the success of the current initiative. Their input on the creation of safe work areas, tools and tasks are critical to shaping successful design systems. Identifying successful programs that include worker input in the design process should play a central role in the PtD agenda.

Given current economic realities, it is essential to demonstrate the value of PtD in lean manufacturing to ensure that the implementation of lean does not result in the elimination of programs essential to worker health and safety. By applying PtD methods, companies can not only reduce the potential for worker injuries and illnesses (and mitigate the costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses) but also increase their profits through improved work processes and work organization. Business case studies that showcase improved profits through Prevention through Design methods provide valuable guidance to other businesses.

Policy Strategic Goal
Business leaders, labor, academics, government entities, and standard-developing and setting organizations endorse a culture that includes PtD principles in all designs affecting workers.

Policy focuses on creating demand for safe designs for workers and incorporating these safety and health considerations into guidance, regulations, recommendations, operating procedures, and standards.

Most urgent to the implementation of PtD is the development of a broad, overarching policy to serve as a roadmap for establishing PtD processes and programs for enterprises of all sizes, across all industrial sectors. The creation of outcome-based guidance for the implementation of industry- or activity-specific standards is needed. As a fundamental element to the development of PtD policy, relevant recommendations from various authoritative and advisory organizations should reflect PtD principles. The ultimate goal is to include PtD principles in all design standards that affect workers.

Small Business Strategic Goal
Small businesses have access to PtD resources that are designed for or adapted to the small business environment.

Small Businesses goals explore methods for tailoring and diffusing successful PtD practices and programs to small businesses. Since small businesses must operate effectively on limited resources, they often do not have in the in-house capacity to address prevention through design issues. Thus, the National Initiative calls for adapting successful PtD practices and programs to the small business environment. Case studies highlighting successful practices, programs and interventions at the small business level could help promote PtD methods to these establishments.

NIOSH Program Portfolio Approach

NIOSH has been organizing research, guidance, information, and service efforts into specific programs that can be readily communicated and strategically governed and evaluated. NORA Sector Programs represent industrial sectors, and twenty-four Cross-sector Programs organized around adverse health outcomes, statutory programs and global efforts.

The NORA Sector Programs intersect with Cross-Sector Programs in a matrix-like fashion. For example, an Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program goal of reducing farm-related deaths and injuries due to tractor rollovers and trucks would likely be a shared goal with the Transportation Program and if appropriate would be adopted by both programs. This approach provides an added advantage and allows multiple Programs to work towards accomplishment of intersecting goals.

Each of the 32 programs in the NIOSH Program Portfolio has a Manager and Coordinator. Each of the NIOSH Sector Programs facilitates the work of a NORA Sector Council to engage external stakeholders in the process of developing sector goals for the nation and methods to measure the short-term, intermediate and long-term outcomes arising from those goals. The NORA goals for the nation take precedence when establishing NIOSH sector program goals. Cross Sector programs have internal Steering Committees that develop program goals and monitor outcome measures.

These planning efforts position NIOSH to align with the most current governmental approaches for evaluating program effectiveness, i.e., the Program Assessment Rating Tool (or PART). PART is a mechanism to hold governmental agencies accountable for accomplishing results. As part of our comprehensive approach to performance measurement, NIOSH has engaged the National Academies to independently evaluate our sector and cross-programs for relevance and impact.

These goals are available in two formats:

  • A full report containing the goals and narrative in PDF format titled Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative – November 2010
  • An interactive web site that allows you to browse through the goals in the Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative.

Since Prevention through Design is a National Initiative, all stakeholders are invited to work collectively to meet the important objectives outlined in the Plan. NIOSH uses these goals to target intramural and extramural PtD research efforts.