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Prevention through design (PtD) is a guiding principle in occupational safety and health (OSH). It is anchored in the belief that eliminating or reducing hazards and controlling residual risks at the design stage is the most effective way to prevent incidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The principle applies to the design and redesign of facilities, processes, products, and operations throughout their life cycle (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH] 2010).

Hazard elimination and reduction are the preferred approach under PtD, but it is recognized that not all hazards can be eliminated or reduced. Those that cannot must be minimized and controlled at acceptable risk levels. The classical “hierarchy of controls” is an essential feature of PtD (American National Standards Institute/American Society of Safety Engineers [ANSI/ASSE] 2011). The hierarchy guides the OSH professional in choosing and applying prevention methods. Hazard elimination resides at the top of the hierarchy, followed by hazard reduction through substitution of less hazardous materials, methods, or processing conditions. Engineering controls are next, followed by warning systems, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment as the last choice in the hierarchy.

Applying prevention methods as early as possible in the design stage ...

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