Describe At Least Two Drawbacks To The Engineering Approach To Safety And Health – Research Paper Example

Two drawbacks to the engineering approach to safety and health are the human factor and evolving industries. The first factor is the human factor. An engineering approach used in any industry takes into considerations all normal factors, such as mechanical wear, predictable human behavior, and design. Humans do not always have predictable behavior. The best example of this type of drawback to safety and health would be Chernobyl. The nuclear power plant at Chernobyl was built with an engineering approach to safety and health for the surrounding community. The meltdown of this plant was the direct cause of human failure to respond properly. Every safety measure can be put into place, but if humans ignore these protocols then accidents do happen. Engineers are not mind readers. All possible reactions cannot be predicted. In an emergency human reactions can vary from the predictable to the hysterical. The engineering approach assumes humans will take the course of action that will do the least amount of harm. A human that panics might not always act in their best interest or the company’s best interest. The human factor can make the best system succeed or fail.
The second drawback to an engineering approach to safety and health is the ever evolving technology and safety/health findings. An example of this drawback is asbestos. At one time asbestos was installed in buildings as a fire retardant. However once asbestos was linked to cancer, not only did engineers have to stop using asbestos and find other fire retardant materials to use, but had to remove all the asbestos previously used. What might have been thought safe two years ago might be considered dangerous as time goes by. Humans are ever evolving in knowledge. This makes an engineering approach toward safety and health concerns only as good as the latest data. Engineering approaches must evolve along with the new technologies and knowledge to be affective.
Leveson, N. (2003). White paper on approaches to safety engineering. 23 Apr. 2003.
Accessed 5 Sept. 2009