Many facilities and structures we encounter in everyday life have the potential for causing enormous safety hazards and harm if they are not properly designed and monitored. Engineers are needed to not only construct facilities and structures that fulfill their functions efficiently but also safety to prevent massive risks and the potential for injury.

This is where safety engineering comes in. It’s important that any designers or manager of industrial facilities or large-scale public works understands what safety engineering is.

What is Safety Engineering?

Safety engineering is important to keep a wide variety of industrial operations operating without any accidents or incidents. Safety engineering can be necessary for a wide variety of design scenarios including the design of public works, manufacturing plants, and products. The goal of this branch of engineering is to completely eliminate health risks or at least drastically limit the potential for their occurrence.

Two major categories of safety engineering include qualitative methods and quantitative methods of safety engineering. These two methods are distinct in some ways, but they’re alike in the fact that they attempt to find causal relationships between safety hazards and failure of particular components that make up a system.

Three Steps to be Aware of in the Safety Engineering Process

  • Techniques for conducting an analysis – To begin the process that safety engineering requires, it’s important to first perform an analysis of risks. For this, fault modeling must occur. Common ways to carry this process out include an analysis of failure mode or an analysis involving a fault tree. This analysis will involve not only finding potential issues but also brainstorming on ways to correct them.
  • Certification of safe operations – Once an analysis is carried out that is aimed at correcting potential failures, it’s important to work toward a safety certification to ensure that risks can be avoided completely or minimized. Safety certification requires undergoing a set of steps for regulated safety engineering procedures that will involve completing the required documents and achieving various exit criteria. A safety certification should guarantee that failure happens very rarely or not at all. For example, accepted failure rates for the FAA might be at under one failure for every one billion operating hours.
  • Avoiding failures that create safety hazards – After safety certification, the prevention of future failures and added risks is the next step in safety engineering. Equipment is generally added to a system in order to avoid failures. An example of a precaution that will prevent failure would be the addition of core cooling systems on a nuclear reactor to keep temperatures down to avoid a meltdown and leakage.

Offerings of associations such as the ASSE and the National Safety Council

Various organizations exist to promote safety engineering and to offer resources to companies needing to undergo safety engineering procedures to bring down risks at their sites.

One such organization is the American Society of Safety Engineers. This organization brings together professionals working in the field of safety engineering for consultation and raising awareness of occupational safety and health concerns.

Another such organization is the National Safety Council. The NSC is a nonprofit organization that endeavors to promote health and safety in the workplace. To this end, this organization offers a variety of service in first aid courses, traffic safety courses, fleet safety courses for commercial driving fleets, and workplace safety courses in cooperation with other organizations like the US Department of Labor.