What is ‘Safe’?

Instinctively, we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.

Our global society demands mass-produced goods, transportation, industrial-scale healthcare and utilities, and an ever-expanding range of leisure pursuits – but delivering all of these things come with risk.  How can we run the complex systems that provide these benefits, while protecting workers and the public from harm?

Increasingly, the answer is through a systematic and disciplined approach throughout the life of these huge enterprises.  This brings a massive opportunity for the individuals and organizations who can understand and deliver such benefits in our complex world.

Opportunity and Challenge

Perhaps you are a student, frustrated at the lack of system safety training resources available online. Maybe you are an engineer, looking to get into safety or you need to know how to conduct a safety task allocated to you.

You might be looking to hire and want to know what to put in a job description, or what to look for in the CVs/resumes that you receive. Perhaps you are a recruitment agent wondering how to best to match applicants to vacancies. You might be a fellow trainer, looking for useful information, or reading up on the subject.

Maybe you are a manager who needs to understand what your safety staff do. Or perhaps you think that you might need to bring in a specialist: What are your options? What do you need? What’s really the best way to achieve it?

If any of these issues sound familiar, then read on…

System Safety, Functional Safety and Safe Design

This disciplined approach has acquired many different labels.

System Safety

Is described in various ways:

“The system safety concept calls for a risk management strategy based on identification, analysis of hazards and application of remedial controls using a systems-based approach.”

Harold E. Roland; Brian Moriarty (1990). System Safety Engineering and Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471618160

Click here for more.

Functional Safety

This approach emerged in the 1990s.  It introduced the concept that a process, already managed by a ‘basic process control system’ might need a ‘safety instrumented system’ as well.

Functional safety is the part of the overall safety of a system or piece of equipment that depends on automatic protection operating correctly in response to its inputs or failure in a predictable manner (fail-safe). The automatic protection system should be designed to properly handle likely human errors, hardware failures and operational/environmental stress.”


Click here for more.

Safe Design

Safe design is a process defined as the integration of hazard identification and risk assessment methods early in the design process to eliminate or minimise the risks of injury throughout the life of a structure being designed. It encompasses all design including facilities, hardware, systems, equipment, products, layout and configuration.

Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner

Click here for more.

Work Health & Safety

Australian Work Health & Safety law, or WHS, addresses both design and workplace, or occupational, safety.  It’s a very powerful and elegant approach, and it yields a lot of useful content, whether you are in an Australian jurisdiction, or not.

Click here for more.