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Alternative Approaches to Incorporate Design for Safety into Construction Engineering Curricula

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Building a Better Program - Construction Curriculum Enhancements

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.145.1 - 23.145.10



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Paper Authors


Robert G. Batson P.E. University of Alabama

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Robert G. Batson, Ph.D., P.E., is a professor of construction engineering in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at The University of Alabama. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and an M.S. in Industrial Engineering, both received from The University of Alabama in 1979. He teaches required undergraduate courses in construction engineering, safety engineering, engineering management, and applied statistics, and graduate courses in operations research and supply chain management. Prior to transitioning into the Construction Engineering Program at UA, he was a professor of Industrial Engineering 1984-2007. From 1979-84, he was a systems engineer with Lockheed Corporation. Dr. Batson is a long-time member of ASEE and is past-president of the Southeastern Section.

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Alternative Approaches to Incorporate Design for Safety into Construction Engineering CurriculaFrom both an ethical and practical viewpoint, civil and construction engineers must designsafety into buildings, facilities, and the associated construction processes. The pre-constructionphases of design clearly involve information processing, and therefore to change how design ispracticed, one must change the knowledge civil and construction engineers use in their designdecisions. The objective of this paper is to review design for safety (DfS) principles andpractices, then identify and evaluate alternative approaches to incorporate DfS intoconstruction engineering curricula. As BS and MS programs in construction engineeringmultiply, the appropriate inclusion of safety topics is an important consideration for theprogram faculty.In this paper, we will touch on both design for safety (facility, operators, maintainers, users,public) and design for construction safety (DfCS), the process of addressing construction sitesafety and health during the design process. Neither DfS nor DfCS is emphasized in any of thesafety engineering, design methods, or senior design project courses offered at U.S. colleges ofengineering. After a discussion of what drives engineering curriculum and course contentchanges, we identify specific options for “Design for Safety” course content. Several textbooks,handbooks, articles, and websites are identified as suitable sources for instructors to familiarizethemselves with government, professional society, and academic information on DfS and DfCS.A mix of “good practice” processes, guidelines, checklists, tools, and case studies are available.Five alternatives to incorporate DfS into construction engineering curricula are identified: A. In all engineering courses, as hazards naturally arise and are noted to the students by the instructor as the subject matter progresses B. In all engineering design courses, only C. In all senior capstone design courses, as a criterion each design team must address in data collection, analysis, creation of alternatives, and evaluation of alternatives D. In a course on safety engineering E. In a course on “design for safety.”These are evaluated and ranked with D being already proven at the author’s institution, andchances of success with B and C judged to be good and excellent, respectively. Alternative A isjudged unlikely to be accepted by all the faculty members, and Alternative E is seen as a futuredevelopment, perhaps as a senior elective or first-year course in a master’s degree.

Batson, R. G. (2013, June), Alternative Approaches to Incorporate Design for Safety into Construction Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19159

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