Prevention through Design Program
Updated March 3, 2023
The Prevention through Design (PtD) Program seeks to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations in all designs that impact workers. “Designing out” occupational hazards and risks is the most effective way to protect workers.
Prevention through Design Award
The NIOSH Prevention through Design (PtD) annual award recognizes individuals, teams, businesses, and other organizations that have eliminated or reduced hazards through design or re-design efforts or have contributed to the body of knowledge that enables PtD solutions. NIOSH presents the award in partnership with the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and the National Safety Council (NSC). Please see the award page for more information, and to consider nominating your own PtD success story.
One of the best ways to prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities is to eliminate hazards and minimize risks early in the design or re-design process and incorporate methods of safe design into all phases of hazard and risk mitigation. Although a long history of designing for safety for the general public exists in the U.S., less attention has gone to factoring the safety, health and well-being of workers into the design, re-design and retrofit of new and existing workplaces, tools and equipment, and work processes. Prevention through Design (PtD) addresses occupational safety and health needs by eliminating hazards and minimizing risks to workers throughout the life cycle of work premises, tools, equipment, machinery, substances, and work processes including their construction, manufacture, use, maintenance, and ultimate disposal or re-use.
The Prevention through Design (PtD) program seeks to “design-out” a variety of hazards across industries. To do this work, the program intersects with several sector and cross-sector programs within the NIOSH Program Portfolio. Ten sector programs represent industrial sectors, and seven cross-sector programs are organized around health and safety outcomes. PtD is one of numerous core and specialty programs that represent core activities, mandates, special emphasis areas, and methodological approaches. The sector programs intersect with cross-sector programs in a matrix-like fashion, with relevant core and specialty programs playing a supporting role
This approach allows multiple programs to work towards accomplishing the shared research goals in the NIOSH Strategic Plan. The PtD Program contributes to goals on:
- Preventing injuries among high risk workers in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector.
- Preventing and protecting from falls in the construction sector
- Reducing machine-related injuries among mining workers
- Reducing machine-related injuries and transportation incidents among transportation, warehousing and utilities workers
- Reducing noise and ototoxic chemical exposures among manufacturing workers
- Reducing musculoskeletal disorders in wholesale and retail trade
- Reducing silica-induced respiratory diseases among oil and gas extraction workers
Those seeking NIOSH grants to conduct studies related to Prevention through Design are invited to view the current funding opportunities.
Program Performance One-pager
The PtD Program Performance One-Pager (PPOP) offers a snapshot of NIOSH programs’ priorities, strategies used to make progress towards priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.
Prevention through Design (PtD) Pilot Credit
One important opportunity to apply PtD to construction projects is the PtD Pilot Credit available in the US Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED© (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. LEED is a certification system for green buildings, and environmental rating systems play an important role in helping to promote and implement green and sustainable practices. Buildings qualify for different levels of LEED© certification based on acquiring a sufficient number of “credits” demonstrating that the building is efficient, cost-effective, and better for occupants and the environment.
One way the USGBC tests new and innovative concepts is through the development of “pilot credits,” which can be found in the LEED Pilot Credit Library. Pilot credits that are found to be effective and have high usage rates may be added to the LEED Innovation Catalog, a permanent listing of credits that can be pursued for Innovation in Design points. The aim of the PtD pilot credit is to reduce illnesses and injuries by supporting high-performance, cost-effective employee safety and health outcomes across the building life cycle by designing structures that reduce or eliminate potential safety and health hazards.
More information useful resources can be found on the Prevention through Design topic page.
The NIOSH Science Blog provides an opportunity to learn about various workplace safety and health topics and exchange ideas with leading researchers from NIOSH. Check out PtD-themed NIOSH Science Blogs.
Contact Jonathan Bach, PtD Program Coordinator, at JBach@cdc.gov with questions or comments.