Health, safety and environment (HSE) management in engineering practice


Health, safety and environmental management must be part of the engineering profession in a country for the purpose of

or duty of care

or economic reasons and

or legal reasons.

HSE management should therefore consider five broad stages:

* Specifications

* Design and implementation

* Installation and commissioning

* Operation and maintenance

* Changes after commissioning.

* Four essential elements are required to meet the standards:

* Identification of safety functions required for safe shutdown

* Assignment of a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) for each safety function

* Use of the safety life cycle for engineering design and

* Verification of the SIL achieved for each safety function.


The technical code of practice takes into account the following:

* Public safety: give priority to the safety and well-being of the community and take this principle into account when assessing obligations to customers, employers and colleagues.

* Risk Management: Take reasonable steps to minimize the risk of loss of life, injury or suffering.

* Workplace and construction site: minimizing potential hazards in the construction and manufacture of technical products and processes.

* Public / community welfare

* Communication

* Conflicts of Interest

* Confidentiality

The privilege to practice engineering is entrusted to those who are qualified and who have the responsibility to apply technical skills, scientific knowledge and ingenuity to the advancement of human well-being and quality of life. Fundamental principles of conduct of engineers include truth, honesty and trustworthiness in their service to society, honorable and ethical practices that demonstrate honesty, courtesy and good faith towards customers, colleagues and others. Engineers take into account social, cultural, economic, environmental and safety aspects and strive to efficiently use the world’s resources to meet long-term human needs.


Safety is a concern in virtually all technical design processes. Engineers must understand safety in the context of engineering design and what it means to say a design is safe from human injury.

Current design methods give priority to economic considerations over ecological considerations. In some cases, economic considerations also serve environmental objectives. For example, minimizing materials used in a structure means saving resources. When saved at the expense of the life of a product, economic considerations conflict with environmental concerns that require products to be made as sustainable as possible due to the need to minimize long-term resource use and waste generation. term.

Security is the opposite of risk. A design is therefore so safe that it reduces risks. Safe design is aimed at minimizing risks in the standard sense of this term.

Safe design is the combination of all those procedures and principles used by engineers to protect designed objects against accidents that lead to death or injury, long-term health consequences, damage to the environment or malfunction in general.

Several design strategies used to achieve safety in potentially hazardous technology operations are:

* inherently safe design

* safety factors

* negative feedback (self-shutdown) and

* multiple independent safety barriers.

Probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) is the most common method of assessing safety, but safe designs are used to mitigate risks in the standard (probabilistic) sense, but are insufficient. Safe design strategies are used to reduce the estimated risk of injury or to reduce uncertainties, not just risk. They are used to deal with hazards and contingencies that cannot be assigned meaningful opportunities.


There are four (4) main design principles in engineering practice.

(a) Inherently Safe Design:

This minimizes the inherent hazards in the process as much as possible. Potential hazards are ruled out rather than contained or dealt with. For example, hazardous substances are replaced by less hazardous and fire-resistant materials are used instead of combustible ones.

(b) Safety factors

The construction must be strong enough to withstand loads and disturbances that are greater than intended. A common way of obtaining such safety reserves is to use explicitly chosen numerical safety factors. If a safety factor of two (2) is used when building a bridge, it is calculated that the bridge can withstand twice the maximum load it will be subjected to in practice.

(c) Negative feedback mechanisms

This is introduced to achieve an automatic shutdown in the event of a device failure or when the operator loses control. Examples are safety valves that release steam when the pressure in a steam boiler is too high and the dead man’s gap that stops the train when the driver falls asleep. One of the most important safety measures in the nuclear industry is to ensure that reactors automatically shut down in critical situations.

(d) Multiple independent safety barriers

Safety barriers are arranged in chains so that each guardrail is independent of its predecessors (if the first fails, the second is still intact). The first barriers prevent accidents; the second barriers limit the consequences of an accident and rescue services act as a last resort.

Safety factors and multiple collision protection systems deal with both uncertainties and risks. But currently, probabilistic risk analysis (PRA) is used, but it does not take uncertainties into account. Probabilistic calculations can support, but will not replace the ethical judgment of the engineers (environmental, health and safety culture).

Safety engineering principles also include operator training, equipment and plant maintenance, and incident reporting are examples of public interest safety practices.


The engineering profession is expected to foreshadow health, safety and environmental management due to the complexity of the profession’s output and their impact on the lives of the general population. How have we incorporated this into our professional practice?

Seven (7) bad engineering practices have been identified:

* Believing that if something is not specifically stated, either “will do” or “will not do” in the standards, an engineer need not worry about it.

* Thinking that meeting the minimum requirements means that the process is safe and complies with the standard.

* Ignore the importance of good engineering practice.

* Design systems that meet economic requirements, but not safety protection requirements.

* Ignore human factors (errors in calculations, etc.)

* Focusing on capital costs and not life cycle costs.

* Only focused on the Safety Integrity Level (SIL) and not on prevention.

Safety is an essential ethical requirement in engineering practice. Safe design strategies are used not only to reduce the estimated risk of injury, but also to deal with hazards and contingencies that cannot be assigned meaningful opportunities. Designers have an ethical responsibility to create structures that are safe for future use. Safety has to do with avoiding certain types of events that are morally appropriate to avoid.

In engineering design, safety consideration always includes safety against accidental human death or injury arising from the unintended use of the designed object for:

* Preventing damage to the environment

* Prevention of long-term health effects

For example, if a bridge collapses, the engineers who designed it are held accountable.

Building designers and builders must observe structural safety when using scaffolding, tool nets, tool boxes, mechanical lifts and manual lifts according to safe procedures, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in locations (boots / helmets), clearways and roadways. roads, construction tapes to cordon off work areas, etc. Most engineers have neglected this aspect and thus play with the lives of the generality of the population.

What engineers do have has a lasting impact on safety and determines our level of environmental, health and safety culture.


Ethical obligations are necessary for engineers to practice their profession. Without the duty of confidentiality, customers could not trust engineers with commercially sensitive information. Without this information, engineers would not be able to do their job. The moral obligations of our profession can be understood as necessary duties.

Five (5) fundamental values ​​are required for the ethical obligations:

* Protection of lives and protection of people.

* Professionalism, integrity and competence

* Commitment to community / public welfare

* Sustainable management and care for the environment

* Retention of technical knowledge


* Engineers will put the health, safety and environment / welfare of the public first in their profession.

* Engineers practice only in their field or field, in a careful and diligent manner and in accordance with standards, laws, codes, rules and regulations applicable to engineering practice.

* Engineers will examine the social and environmental impact of their actions and projects, including the use and conservation of resources and energy, to make informed recommendations and decisions.

* Engineers must clearly state their interests.

* Engineers sign and take responsibility for any engineering works they have prepared or are directly supervised. Engineers may only sign works prepared by others with their permission and after sufficient control and verification.

* Engineers will act as loyal agents for their employers or clients and maintain confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest where possible, and disclose unavoidable conflicts.

* Professional concerns of engineers should be communicated to the customer and the consequences of technical decisions or judgments.

* Engineers must reject any public works, technical decisions or practices that endanger the VGM of the public.

* Engineers will be committed to lifelong learning, strive to increase technical knowledge, and should encourage other engineers to do the same.

* Engineers will promote accountability, dedication and ethics both in the teaching phase and in the practical phase of engineering. They should make society more aware of the responsibilities of engineers to the public and encourage the communication of these principles of ethical behavior among engineers.


This is about the long-term survival of humanity. It recognizes that decisions made today should enable people in the present as well as people in the near future to make effective choices about their quality of life.

Failure to identify security risks and the inability to address or control these risks can lead to enormous costs, both human and economic. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of safety technology, a very wide range of professionals are actively involved in accident prevention or safety technology.

A critical failure puts few people at risk. A catastrophic mistake endangers, harms or kills a significant number of people. An engineer’s mistakes or inability to incorporate HSE management into his practice is catastrophic.


Everyone must strengthen their understanding of HSE awareness by making safety a priority. Cost-effective solutions must also be developed to achieve the greatest return on investment.

Engineers take an early design of a system, analyze it to see what errors can occur, and then propose safety requirements in design specifications and changes to existing systems in advance to make the system more secure.

If major security issues are discovered late in the design process, correcting them can be very costly. These kinds of mistakes can waste large sums of money.

* At all times, take all reasonable care to ensure that your work and the consequences of your work do not pose an unacceptable risk to safety.

* Take all reasonable steps to make your management / client and those to whom they have a duty of care aware of the risks you identify.

* Formally make anyone who overrules or ignores your professional advice aware of the resulting risks.

* It is critical for engineers to maintain a deep and broad understanding of the many technical and professional practice issues that they will inevitably encounter in their roles as employees of public owners. This is achieved through appropriate education, training, experience, license, professional technical practice and continuous professional development.


The engineering practice such as the construction sector is the motor of social and economic development, the barometer of economic activities and a very large employer of labor in Nigeria. It accounts for more than 60% of the total capital investment. It is the largest employer of labor (think all electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, and computer jobs in the industry).

Health, safety and environment, which deals with life and property, must be taken seriously in this profession. Safety procedures are necessary to prevent accidents, illnesses and adverse health effects of the general public arising from industrial activities on site and in the surrounding area or beyond.

Good HSE management is visible in a country by the quality of the professional ethics of the professionals, including engineers and the level of its health values ​​and the condition of its environment, that is, its level of cleanliness (personal hygiene and public sanitation) .

It can only be developed through personal commitment, willingness and self-sacrifice because of its long and short term benefits. The habit for HSE management starts with safety awareness. Safety awareness is present in each of us and must be taken into our professional practices.

People must recognize that their health and well-being is related to the quality of their environment and apply thoughtful principles to try to improve the quality of their environment.

As engineers, we must encourage others to be safety conscious at all times and do nothing that could lead to an accident. We must apply security measures in all of our daily activities and consider our safety and that of others around us as our responsibilities, especially in our practices.

Finally, as engineers, we must pursue sustainable health, safety and environmental management and make this an essential part of our engineering practice today for the continued relevance of our profession tomorrow. Only when this is done will our professional ethics make sense, knowing that the products of our professional practices have a profound impact on the lives of all citizens of this country.

Hence, a health, safety and environmental management practice is not only necessary, but remains an essential ingredient of our professional ethics in engineering practice in Nigeria and elsewhere, and must always be maintained by all.