Abstract: Context: The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 contains two national Action Areas of direct relevance to Engineering Educators: Healthy and safe by design and Health and safety capabilities. The need for designs to be safe, and for student engineers to develop competencies in this area, is not new. However, poor design of machinery plant and powered tools continues to kill and injure Australian workers. Safe Work Australia (2014) reports that between 2006 and 2011 63, workrelated deaths were determined to be caused by the unsafe design of machinery, plant and power tools, or design-related factors contributed to the fatality. A further 125 fatalities were considered as possibly design-related. It is sad fact that many of these deaths were preventable with existing design solutions.
Good design can eliminate (or minimise the impact of) the major physical, biomechanical and psychosocial hazards associated with work. From an engineering education perspective it is necessary to increase awareness amongst educators and students of these processes such that consideration of safe design is inherent to the engineering design process and not simply an added regulatory requirement.
Purpose: Safe design is not a separate activity or series of activities, but is integral to the engineering process regardless of sector or discipline. This paper reviews the role of engineering educators in understanding, promoting and embedding safe design principles within the engineering curricula.
Approach: The paper explores how safe design has been incorporated into engineering education since the early 1990s, and assesses the effectiveness of available resources and teaching practice. Changes to the legislative environment throughout this time are also described, to provide context and articulate implications for engineering educators.
Results: The importance of safe design is recognised and resources do exist to support engineering educators to embed safe design principles within curriculum. The paper provides a series of recommendations to mainstream the available resources, highlights characteristics of effective practice and identifies areas for further professional development of engineering educators who are not familiar with safe design principles.
Conclusions: In order to develop graduates who are safe design practitioners, the model of engineering design introduced within the engineering curriculum must demonstrate that safe design is an inherent user requirement for all projects. This requires engineering educators to be familiar with human centred engineering design and how this impacts traditional technical design outcomes.
To cite this article: Foley, Bernadette; Howard, Prue; Toft, Yvonne and Hurd, Mike. Increasing safe design practice within the engineering curriculum [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 259-265.
[cited 25 Jul 17].