A Deep Dive into Project Safety: Principles, Practices, and Profound Impact

Understanding Project Safety Analysis (PSA) in the Scope of Engineering, Research and Everyday Life

Key Takeaways:

  1. Project Safety Analysis (PSA) is a mandatory procedure that uncovers potential risks and hazards in a project to be executed, thereby enhancing the project’s safety aspect.
  2. A PSA, initiated at the planning stage, aids in identifying potential hazards, helping us choose appropriate protective gear, and plan for the eventual disposal of equipment, materials, and wastes.
  3. The PSA process is crucial in protecting researchers, graduate students, and staff involved in the project while preserving environmental resources and facilities.
  4. The Office of Engineering Safety can provide assistance in identifying potential hazards and necessary protective control measures during a PSA.

Understanding Project Safety Analysis (PSA)

The primary goal of any project, regardless of its scale or complexity, should be the safety of its participants. Whether it’s a small-scale academic exercise or a massive engineering project, safety should never be compromised. This is where the Project Safety Analysis (PSA) comes into play. PSA, as a procedure, is an invaluable tool in ensuring the safety and success of a project. It is a systematic approach to identifying potential risks and hazards early in the project planning process, making it possible to anticipate issues and prepare solutions before they become problems.

Incorporating a PSA into your project planning stage brings numerous benefits. It allows project planners to identify potential Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) situations that could arise during and after the project. This thorough analysis provides a deeper understanding of the equipment, chemicals, materials, and procedures that will be used during the project. By recognizing these elements, the PSA provides an opportunity to predict potential hazards, select appropriate protective equipment, identify personnel training needs, and plan for the ultimate disposal of leftover equipment, materials, and wastes.

The Purpose and Scope of PSA

The primary aim of a PSA is to equip faculty and researchers with an opportunity to review the environmental health and safety aspects of a research project that will be undertaken. It helps in identifying potential risks and hazards, implementing safe standard operating procedures (SOPs), and necessary protective controls.

All faculty and Principal Investigators (PIs) are required to prepare a written report on the environmental health and safety aspects of each research project before the initiation of that project. The PSA must detail potential hazards and risks using system safety analysis techniques, and outline the engineering and administrative controls needed to protect the researchers, graduate students, staff, building occupants, and the environment.

The PSA should also provide insights into the costs and the source of sufficient funding needed to implement necessary controls and abate hazards. It should clearly specify the personnel training needs and a plan for the final disposition of leftover equipment, materials, and wastes. Upon completion and approval, the PSA will serve as the Operational Procedure (SOP) and “Safety Manual” for the project.

Extent of Applicability of PSA

A PSA is applicable in situations where activities pose risks that are not routinely encountered and accepted in the course of everyday living by the majority of the general public. In essence, a PSA applies to academic and research projects that involve unfamiliar and potentially hazardous situations.

However, it is important to understand that no activity is devoid of some degree of risk. Certain routine risks are accepted without question by most people, such as using machine shops that do not handle hazardous materials or using cars for personal transportation. As such, a project involving only hazards of a type and magnitude routinely encountered and accepted by the public will require justification, which can be referred to a recognized source.

Seeking Assistance in Conducting a PSA

The task of conducting a PSA can be daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. The good news is that there are resources available to assist with this process. For instance, the Office of Engineering Safety is available to work with the Faculty/PI and research staff to identify potential hazards of the project and necessary protective control measures.

The experts in these offices have the knowledge and experience necessary to guide project planners through the PSA process. Their input can prove invaluable in ensuring that all potential hazards are identified and adequately addressed, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries during the project’s execution.


In conclusion, a Project Safety Analysis (PSA) plays an instrumental role in ensuring the successful and safe execution of a project. By systematically identifying potential hazards and risks, it provides a roadmap for implementing necessary safety controls and abating hazards. Its applicability extends to any project that involves hazards not routinely accepted by the general public in their everyday lives. With the right guidance and resources, conducting a PSA becomes an integral part of project planning and execution, providing safety and security for all involved.

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