Safety professionals find themselves involved in various projects ranging from construction to process development to product development or manufacturing. While all types of projects benefit from having safety professionals involved, it can be frustrating, costly, and time consuming for all parties if safety issues are discovered and addressed too late. When this happens, safety professionals can be viewed as an impediment to project completion. However, if safety professionals, and front line employees that know the work best, are brought in at the beginning of a project, safety concerns can be addressed within the project's original timeline and budget. The Prevention through Design concept ensures that this happens by making safety an integral component of all projects from the beginning.

Safety through Design was introduced in the 1940s, but the design and construction industries did not begin adopting the process until the 1980s. In 1995, the concept was formalized when the National Safety Council published a book entitled Safety through Design, authored by Wayne Christensen and Fred Manuele. To date, the process has been primarily used in the petrochemical and automotive industries.

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