Science & Engineering

Safety Engineering

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Safety Engineering is an applied engineering science strongly related to industrial engineering and a subset Systems Engineering. Safety engineers usually work on the Risk Management Integrated Product Team (IPT) of an acquisition program. Safety engineering assures that a life-critical system behaves as needed even when components fail. The goal of the safety engineering is to prevent/mitigate failures (Risk Management) in a system that might be harmful to its users.  They start early in the design stage of a system to analyze where failures can occur then propose safety requirements in design specifications up front and changes to existing systems to make the system safer.

Safety engineers conduct design analysis to identify risk and safety hazards. The most common analysis techniques include:

Safety engineering is a key player in any safety program. The purpose of a safety program is to ensure that hazards are identified and addressed throughout the life cycle of a program and system.  Safety analyses must be initiated and performed during the earliest stages of any acquisition program.  Results must be factored into trade-off analyses and reflected in the planning for each design and logistic element.  The goal of the safety program is to field an end item for which each potential hazard has been identified and eliminated or reduced to the greatest extent possible. [1]

The following safety topics should be addressed by safety engineers and included in a system’s Life-Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP): [1]

  • Explain the impact of commercial items on the end item safety.  For example, instruction manuals accompanying commercial equipment are found to contain inadequate warnings, cautions, and notes.  This may require development of documentation to supplement the manuals.
  • Identify all specifications and standards used in the safety program.
  • Identify roles and responsibilities of participants in the safety planning and implementation efforts, and provide descriptions at the organization level.
  • Identify safety risks for the end item.  For each risk, provide a method for eliminating or mitigating the risk.
  • Identify the Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) controls to be imposed on suppliers of ESD sensitive items.

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