Document Detail

Title: SD-107 - A Multi-Media Design Aid for Project Hazard Identification & Remediation, Part I
Publication Date: 5/1/1995
Product Type: Source Document
Status: Reference
Pages: 101
Haas, Burleson, Goodrum, Univ. of Texas at Austin
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Throughout the schematic and design development phases of any built structure, design decisions are made that will impact the safety of the construction worker during the project erection cycle. Many of these same decisions will also impact the safety of the end users, maintenance and repair workers, and construction crews during renovation or deconstruction cycles. While contractor practices, worker training, and existing regulations can be effective means of reducing worker injuries and death, they rely heavily on individual and group behaviors. Personal and collective values regarding risk, moral and social responsibilities toward workers, perceived returns on safety investments, as well as personal jobsite habits often make these measures unreliable as a means of reducing injuries and death. The designers and owners of a project can become actively involved in safety performance and alleviate many of these behavioral factors by designing so that the physical environment of the construction workers and end users is improved with regard to safety.

A safety analysis conducted during normal schematic and design development project phases is an effective means of identifying undesirable and unnecessary hazards inherent in the project design. Many of these hazards can be “designed out” through the use of alternative components, systems, or construction methods. If designers are to effectively improve the overall project quality through the use of a systematic and comprehensive approach to safety during design, a design tool is needed. This tool, or approach to design, should facilitate creative thoughts toward the safety aspects of design, provide a consolidated source of known hazards, and present potential remediation ideas.

The two-part research effort described here and in the companion source document develop the theoretical framework, program design, and initial knowledge base for an interactive computerized tool to assist in addressing safety issues during design. This document, Part I, describes the background, functional capabilities and design of the Design for Safety Toolbox software prototype. Part II, describes the development and implementation of the knowledge database.

The Design for Safety Toolbox is an expert system that will guide design professionals through a systematic safety analysis process in which the users are encouraged to develop their own design solution to project hazards as they are identified. This is a departure from the traditional expert system which uses expert knowledge and inference procedures to solve problems for designers. The Asymetrix Multimedia Toolbook authoring tool, an integrated software tool kit used to create interactive, stand alone, software applications, was selected as the building tool for the research efforts. The application has been designed to encourage designers to think about hazards, to provide a knowledge base concentrating on the construction phase to be flexible enough to be used for all types of construction projects, and to be efficient and easy to use.

Specific system requirements to be incorporated in the tool were identified by research team members and include:

  • Identify Construction Hazards
  • List and Prioritize Hazards
  • Add Lessons Learned for New Hazards/New Designs
  • Document Design Decisions and Rationale
  • Generate Reports for Hazard Tracking, Owner Acceptance, and Residual Risk

The resulting Design for Safety Toolbox operates in the Windows environment, has graphic storage capabilities, maintains multiple project safety data, utilizes a matrix management tool to insure comprehensive design team involvement, and includes a database which includes 14 general hazard knowledge areas:

  • General Safety and Health Provisions
  • Occupational Health and Environmental Controls
  • Fire Protection and Prevention
  • Explosives
  • Building Design
  • Electrical
  • Fall Prevention
  • Emergency Response Systems
  • Lift Operations
  • Excavation
  • Subterranean Construction
  • Constructability
  • General Access and Egress
  • Shutdown, Demolition, and Decommissioning


The flexible user interface allows the designer to complete a comprehensive safety analysis in three distinct analysis modes: by project systems, by construction site hazard, and by project components. Each analysis mode is keyed to the knowledge database and allows for new knowledge to be added and accessed in any mode. The software also stores general project data for each open project file. Project title and job number; project description, job location; last assessment date; project designer, owner, and constructor; and the matrix management array is available for all project analysis sessions and can appear on all project reports as needed. Specific database knowledge and best practices are described in the companion source document.

The Design for Safety Toolbox requires an IBM-compatible computer and approximately 50MB of free disk space to install. Recommended hardware and software capacities include an 80486–66MHz (or faster), DOS 6.0 and Windows 3.1 (or higher), 16MB RAM, Super VGA graphics adapter and monitor, and a laser printer.