7 Tips to Help Engineers Think Like Safety Engineers

Picture of Donia Cahouch

Donia Cahouch

Chief Technology Officer

Safety engineering is a pivotal aspect of any engineering endeavour, requiring a proactive and meticulous approach to identify and mitigate potential risks. While safety engineers are experts in this field, all engineers can benefit from adopting a safety-focused mindset and culture of safety. Here are seven tips to help engineers think like safety engineers:

1. Embrace a Holistic Perspective:

Safety engineering entails considering all aspects of a project and its potential impact on various stakeholders. Engineers should step back from the technical details and assess the broader implications. Think about how the design or process could affect the environment, operators, the general public and the actual product’s manufacture. Taking a holistic approach enables engineers to identify potential hazards early on and integrate safety measures throughout the project lifecycle as opposed to conducting a last-minute review for safety concerns.

2. Prioritize Rigorous Risk Assessment:

Engineers across all disciplines can significantly benefit from incorporating rigorous risk assessment strategies, traditionally employed by safety engineers, into their daily work.

By integrating risk assessment early in the project lifecycle, continuously evaluating potential hazards, and adopting a preventive mindset, engineers can foresee and mitigate risks more effectively. Utilizing technology for risk analysis, collaborating across disciplines for broader insights, and maintaining clear documentation and communication are key practices that enhance project safety and success. This proactive approach ensures that potential issues are addressed well before they escalate, leading to more resilient and robust project outcomes.

3. Adhere to Safety Standards and Regulations:

Safety engineers rigorously adhere to safety standards and regulations to ensure compliance and best practices. Similarly, engineers from all disciplines should be familiar with relevant safety standards and regulations applicable to their projects. Whether it’s OSHA regulations for workplace safety, ISO standards for product safety, or local building codes for construction safety, understanding these requirements is crucial. Incorporating safety standards into designs and processes ensures that safety remains a top priority.

4. Continuously Seek Learning and Training Opportunities:

Safety engineers undergo specialized training to stay updated on the latest safety practices, technologies, and regulations. Likewise, engineers can enhance their safetymindset by actively pursuing learning opportunities. Attend safety workshops, seminars, and training programs to gain valuable insights into safety engineering principles.

Encourage interdisciplinary collaboration with safety professionals to exchange knowledge and best practices. By staying informed and continuously learning, engineers can effectively integrate safety considerations into their work. Building a culture of safety is crucial, and we believe that encouraging this training among professionals is a key strategy. At RoboSafety, we offer comprehensive and meticulous safety training designed to meet this need.

5. Foster a Culture of Safety Awareness:

Safety engineers cultivate a culture of safety within organizations, emphasizing its significance across all levels and throughout every stage of a project. At RoboSafety, we are committed to promoting this culture, recognizing that it often does not receive the attention it critically needs. Engineers can promote this culture by fostering open communication and collaboration among team members. Encourage employees to report safety concerns, near-misses, or potential hazards without fear of reprisal. Implement regular safety audits, inspections, and reviews to identify areas for improvement. By making safety a collective responsibility, engineers create a workplace culture where safety is embedded in every decision and action. The underlying issue behind the safety challenges at Boeing Aircraft has been pinpointed as a significant erosion of the company’s safety culture, prioritizing profit over safety.

This shift has led to substantial financial losses for Boeing and, tragically, the loss of lives.

6. Implement Robust Safety Controls and Procedures:

Safety engineers are adept at designing and implementing robust safety controls and procedures. Engineers should follow suit by incorporating safety measures directly into their designs and processes. Consider engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) as essential components of a comprehensive safety plan. Regularly review and update safety procedures to ensure they align with the latest best practices and technologies.

7. Emphasize Proactive Hazard Identification and Mitigation:

Safety engineers focus on identifying potential hazards before they escalate into safety incidents. Engineers should adopt a proactive stance by actively seeking out potential hazards in their designs and processes. Conduct hazard analyses, safety audits, and risk assessments regularly to identify and mitigate risks early on. By addressing potential hazards proactively, engineers can prevent accidents, protect assets, and ensure the safety of all stakeholders.Final Thoughts Thinking like a safety engineer involves adopting a proactive, holistic, and risk-focused mindset. By embracing these seven tips, engineers from all disciplines can contribute to safer designs, processes, and projects. Emphasizing a culture of safety not only safeguards lives and assets but also bolsters the overall success and sustainability of engineering projects. Furthermore, it mitigates legal risks for companies by ensuring that their products are designed with safety as a fundamental priority.

Remember, safety is not just a goal—it’s a mindset that engineers need to cultivate to drive innovation and excellence in their work.

References:

– “Safety Engineering: Principles and Practices” by Frank R. Spellman

– “Risk Analysis and Management: Engineering Resilience” by Mohammed Modarres and

Mark H. Hayes

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