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Diffusing Prevention Through Design Principles Through Engineering Textbooks

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Methodology

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.489.1 - 14.489.12



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Paper Authors


Richard Rinehart NIOSH

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Richard Rinehart works with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Education and Information Division, and is currently on assignment to the International Labor Organization in Cairo, Egypt. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with a doctorate in Occupational Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He has worked in many countries to promote good occupational safety and health practices from informal enterprises to multinationals and governments. Prior to moving to Egypt, he helped NIOSH launch and coordinate the Prevention through Design (PtD) National Initiative. He continues to work on PtD through a project that brings PtD principles into engineering textbooks as they are being updated.

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Donna Heidel NIOSH


Andrea Okun NIOSH

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Andrea Okun has over 28 years experience with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Presently, she is the Deputy Director of the Education and Information Division. Dr. Okun received her Masters of Science in Public Health, with a concentration in environmental health, from the University of Massachusetts. She received her Doctorate in Public Health, with a major in health policy and administration and a minor in epidemiology, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her present research interests include the integration of occupational safety and health (OSH) into high school curriculums, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of utilizing various methods and channels to disseminate OSH information, and understanding organizational and environmental factors that impact compliance with OSH recommendations and regulations.

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Michael Barsan NIOSH

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Michael E. Barsan is an industrial hygienist with NIOSH in Cincinnati, OH. He is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service and has worked at NIOSH for 21 years. He is the Technical Editor of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. He is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian. He has a BS in Natural Sciences in Xavier University and will receive his MPH from Ohio State University in June 2009.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Defusing Prevention through Design Principles through Engineering Textbooks …the opportunity to eliminate a hazard at the drawing board through good design is one that should be seized with both hands.1


There is a growing demand on engineers by business leaders to anticipate and minimize workplace hazards early in the design process, rather than retrofit changes after workers gets hurt. Design, in this regard, can be for a facility, piece of equipment used in a process or the design of the process, system, or operation itself. It is analogous to “green chemistry,” which has started to gain interest in chemistry programs as a way to prevent pollution and sustain our resources. Many decisionmakers view this preventive approach as a commonsense necessity in today’s highly competitive business environment and see it as an essential element of lean production and service systems. Large and small companies worldwide have put into practice Prevention through Design (PtD) management practices for reducing the direct and indirect costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses.

One significant barrier to PtD is the lack of training for most new engineers on how they can contribute to profitable enterprises by considering occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards and risks at the drawing board, and taking steps to minimize them. Senior managers from approximately forty Fortune 500 companies expressed concern over this gap in education.2 They said time and money is devoted to training new engineers on basic company policies related to the prevention of workplace health and safety hazards. They also indicated the expensive need to retrofit equipment, systems, facilities, and operations to reduce risks that were not addressed during the design process. Today’s businesses have a growing demand for engineering graduates who are knowledgeable in PtD concepts.

This paper emphasizes the importance of including PtD in engineering education. It argues that teaching such concepts does not require stand-alone courses in already full curricula. Concepts can be woven into existing textbooks through the use of examples and case studies. Authors can include PtD messages in new editions of books as they are being updated.

A brief history of PtD and its link to engineering school education is provided below. Then, the PtD National Initiative is summarized with links to more information. This initiative forms a comprehensive foundation upon which the PtD engineering textbook project is an important component. The paper presents the steps being taken to incorporate PtD concepts into selected textbooks. Finally, several case studies of PtD in action are given that represent the types of examples that could be used in engineering textbooks. It is hoped that readers of this paper will promote the PtD concept among their students and peers and request that such information be included in future textbooks used by engineering students in their fields.


Rinehart, R., & Heidel, D., & Okun, A., & Barsan, M. (2009, June), Diffusing Prevention Through Design Principles Through Engineering Textbooks Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5643

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015