Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZBET - NORA Prevention through Design Research

Start Date: 10/1/2007
End Date: 9/30/2011

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Donna Heidel
Phone: 513-533-8489
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: EID
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

The purpose of this study is to advance Prevention through Design principles across research, education, practice, and policy, which have been identified as important functional areas for a National Initiative on Prevention through Design by a multi-stakeholder planning committee. The project directly targets the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare industries, but has indirect applications to other industry sectors. It is being endorsed by the NORA Engineering Controls Coordinated Emphasis Area. Expected outcomes include increased knowledge on management practices related to Prevention through Design, a tested model to incorporate the concept into engineering textbooks, a better understanding of how to bring NIOSH engineering research products to practice, and influence on voluntary consensus standards.


This study is comprised of four projects that support the incorporation of Prevention through Design into United States businesses. The concept of Prevention through Design 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. Many Fortune 500 companies openly purport Prevention through Design concepts and have developed management practices to implement them. The United Kingdom has had regulations since 1994 requiring construction companies, project owners, and architects to address safety and health during the design phase of projects. Project 1 of this study identifies management practices related to Prevention through Design in Fortune 500 companies in the United States and construction companies in the United Kingdom. The findings from Project 1 will be disseminated broadly outside and within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

A longstanding goal in the occupational safety and health community is to find ways to interject concepts of occupational safety and health into engineering school curricula so new graduates can apply this knowledge to future designs. Project 2 works with the editor for aerospace, civil, chemical, and industrial engineering textbooks at John Wiley & Sons to increase the coverage of safety and health topics in Wiley publications. Wiley is one of the largest publishers of engineering textbooks in the United States. This is a unique opportunity to affect engineering curricula on a broad scale, as it has the potential to be replicated. It will also provide a venue in which the research results from Projects 1 and 3 can be put into practice.

One goal of the Engineering Controls Coordinated Emphasis Area is to move engineering research projects (design solutions) into practice. Too often researchers develop a new tool, process, or engineering control that can effectively be incorporated into future designs, write a paper on their achievement, and then move on to the next research topic without seeing the products of their research move into practice. Project 3 attempts to overcome this trend by reviewing important but underused NIOSH-developed design solutions and disseminating them so that they can be put into practice. It is anticipated that the lessons learned from this activity will be helpful to other research-to-practice programs. They will also be incorporated into Projects 2 and 4.

Project 4 further promotes research-to-practice by attempting to influence management systems and consensus standards to include principles of Prevention through Deign. Project 4 identifies and targets important consensus standards committees and appoints National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health specialists to them to have input and influence. The results from the other component projects will support the ability to influence the language of future consensus standards.

Finally, the study proposes a coordinating function to harmonize the four component projects. It will facilitate communication and ensure that the overall study remains on track. The coordinating effort will also align the study with a National Initiative on Prevention through Design being lead by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The study is well positioned to tap into the growing number and range of stakeholders who want to participate in the national initiative and make Prevention through Design a normal way of doing business in the 21st century.


To promote and protect the health and safety of people who work by preventing workplace-related fatalities, illnesses, and injuries by including prevention considerations into all designs that impact workers in the construction, manufacturing, and health care industries, NAICS 23, 31–33, and 62. The proposed research contributes to this overall objective by integrating the activities of four component projects within the broader context of a NIOSH-led Prevention through Design (PtD) National Initiative.

Mission Relevance

A National Initiative on Prevention through Design has been launched by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the broader occupational safety and health community because of its importance in preventing or reducing work-related injuries and illnesses. Considering and taking the necessary steps to remove or reduce hazards and risks before machines, tools, structures, or processes are used or built is superior to, and less costly than, ignoring potential problems until workers get hurt. The Engineering Controls Coordinated Emphasis Area highlights this important point in its program description by pointing out the value of addressing problems at the top of the hierarchy of prevention. That is, designing in ways to eliminate, substitute, or control hazards and risks. The National Initiative aims to garner the growing support and momentum for mainstreaming this important concept into everyday practice in the United States.

This study, with its four component projects, will break ground in the four areas (research, education, practice, and policy) that a multi-discipline team of stakeholders identified as priority areas for the Prevention through Design Initiative. First, the study will research companies that presently endorse Prevention through Design principles in order to better understand the factors that contributed their adoption of this practice. Second, the study will bring Prevention through Design concepts into education by working to include the concepts in textbooks used by major engineering schools. Third, the study will demonstrate the value of underused engineering design solutions created by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers through detailed business cases and for the most promising underused engineering solutions, put into place diffusion plans that overcome the barriers identified and create incentives to bringing these solutions into practice. Finally, the study will actively support the inclusion of Prevention through Design concepts into voluntary standards. These management systems and consensus standards are important factors in driving industry behavior. These four component projects, together with the National Initiative, may significantly impact the practice of occupational safety and health in the United States by making Prevention through Design a normal way of doing business in the 21st century.

This project supports the following goals:


STRATEGIC GOAL 13.0 – 09PPCONSG13 Increase the use of "prevention through design (PtD)" approaches to prevent or reduce safety and health hazards in construction.

Intermediate Goal 13.1 – 09PPCONIG13.1 Characterize the current use of CHPtD and coordinate efforts to promote its use.

Research to Practice Goal 13.1.5 – 09PPCONAOG13.1.5 Promote the use of CHPtD.

Intermediate Goal 13.2 – 09PPCONIG13.2 Confirm the most prevalent obstacles to acceptance and implementation of CHPtD:
• fear of liability;
• lack of expertise in safety and in designing for safety; and,
• increased costs associated with CHPtD.

Research Goal 13.2.1 – 09PPCONAOG13.2.1 Explore and characterize the issue of liability concerns for designers. Develop potential solutions such as
model contract language, design specifications, and legal protection that
allow designers to incorporate CHPtD concepts without exposing themselves
to inappropriate liability.

Intermediate Goal 13.5 – 09PPCONIG13.5 Develop incentives for architects and engineers to include the following in facility design plans and specifications:
• Methods for safer project erection
• Methods for safe operation
• Methods for safe service and maintenance
• Methods for safety of the public


Strategic Goal 3 (09PPMNFSG3): Reduce the number of musculoskeletal disorders among manufacturing sector workers.

All Health Outcomes

Strategic Goal 4 (09PPENGSG4): Reduce health and safety hazards by providing expert consultation to elements of NIOSH, other agencies, and external partners in the application of engineering controls for hazard prevention and the formation of occupational criteria.

Intermediate Goal 4.1 (09PPENGIG4.1): Relates to Construction Strategic Goals 3.0, 8.0, 11.0, 13.0

Activity/Output Goal 4.1.1 (09PPENGAOG4.1.1): Provide expert consultation in the application of engineering controls for hazard prevention to reduce fatal and serious injuries associated with struck-by incidents associated with objects, vehicles, and collapsing materials and structures. (SG 3.0)

Activity/Output Goal 4.1.4 (09PPENGAOG4.1.4): Provide expert consultation in the application of engineering controls to increase the use of "prevention through design (PtD)" approaches to prevent or reduce safety and health hazards in construction. (SG 13.0)

Prevention through Design

Strategic Goal 1 (09PPPTDSG1): Engineering, Economic, and Diffusive Aspects of Employing PtD to Reduce Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, Fatalities and Exposures are investigated.

Intermediate Goal 1.1 (09PPPTDIG1.1): Design factors that are successful in reducing occupational motor vehicle fatalities will be identified and communicated. (NSC and ORC; WRT and TWU Sectors)

Strategic Goal 2 (09PPPTDSG2): Designers, Engineers and Health and Safety Professionals Understand the Principles of PtD and Apply this Knowledge in the Design and Re-Design of Facilities, Processes, Equipment, and Tools

Intermediate Goal 2.1 (09PPPTDIG2.1): Existing university and continuing education courses include PtD modules, case studies, and design elements.

Intermediate Goal 2.2 (09PPPTDIG2.2): Business leaders include safety design education/experience in engineering and architectural position descriptions.

Intermediate Goal 2.3 (09PPPTDIG2.3): PtD professional development courses are included in H&S seminars, webinars and conferences.

Intermediate Goal 2.4 (09PPPTDIG2.4): PtD courses are offered by industry trade organizations.

Strategic Goal 3 (09PPPTDSG3): Standardized Processes, Equipment, and Tools are Identified, Developed, and Shared

Intermediate Goal 3.3 (09PPPTDIG3.3): An ongoing process is established for the sharing of new PtD case studies.