Naval Safety Center




Design Safety

Protecting our people is critical to our mission of national defense. We are dedicated to ensuring our Sailors and Marines are ready at all times to carry out their mission by providing them with safe and healthful work environments. One place to start is in acquisition.

Challenges and Best Practices

Confined Space Entry
Electrical Safety/Haz. Energy
Fall Protection
Heat Stress
Laser Radiation
Noise Control Aboard Navy Ships
Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR)
Success Stories

Acquisition Safety Overview

Acquisition Safety Website Executive Overview

ESOH Community on the Acquisition Community Connection (ACC) 

Program Elements

Communication of System Safety Design Requirements in System Design, Development, and Acquisition

System Safety

General Resources

Acquisition Safety Poster Sessions

Acquisition Safety

Acquisition and Technology Programs Task Force (ATP TF)

Background Info on Defense Acquisition and Logistics

CNA 2014 Report:  Inserting Safety Into the Acquisition Process

Contractor Safety

Control of Common OSH Hazards in Military Systems Acquisition

Electrical Safe Design Final Report - List of Appendices

International System Safety Society

Naval Global War on Noise

The System Safety Skeptic

Introduction to Acquisition Safety and System Safety

Health, safety and operational hazards are best controlled through design.  This webpage describes how design for safety improves operational readiness while protecting the human, material and financial resources.  Designing safety into systems and equipment and removing hazards though substation/use of the safest feasible processes and materials is the best way to lower costs and risks.  The hierarchy of controls recognizes the preferred and by far most efficient approach is to:

  • Optimal:  Design out or eliminate the hazard where possible (An example is avoiding use of unnecessarily hazardous materials where less toxic products will perform the same function)
  • Next best:  Control the hazard through engineering methods when elimination or substitution isn't feasible (An example is use of local exhaust ventilation to control hazardous air contaminants)
  • Provide administrative controls
  • Least Preferred:  Provide training and protective equipment where other control measures aren't feasible or fully effective.  (This is the least preferred alternative because protective equipment doesn't eliminate the hazard and training is manpower intensive and sometime variable in effectiveness).

Application of the hierarchy of controls is required by DOD and Navy safety and health policy regulations including (DoDI 6055.01; SECNAVINST5100.10; OPNAVINST 5100.23 (shore safety manual) and OPNAVINST 5100.24 (Navy System Safety Policy).

The ANSI/ASSE Z590.3-2011 Prevention through Design Standard is accepted best practice provide Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Process. The standard can be obtained at .  A summary describing the standard associated process is available at

The National Institue for Occupational Safety and Health has launched a Prevention through Design Initiative which seeks the involvement of varied Industries in process improvements to enhance safety and efficiency.  See

The Naval and DOD acquisition processes are required to consider safety and health factors in the design phase.

How we can help:  The Naval Safety Center maintains a group of safety experts who are familiar with nearly every major platform. Program offices are encouraged to contact Safety Center analysts in order to identify risks documented through surveys and investigations in order to avoid these problems (and costs) in future systems. The Safety Center can also help develop preliminary hazard lists and identify potential alternative approaches to risk mitigation. Contact us using our feedback form or call (757) 444-3520. The Navy and Marine Corps considers protecting our people to be critical to our mission of national defense. The Department of the Navy is dedicated to ensuring our men and women are ready at all times to carry out their mission by providing them with safe and healthful work environments. One place to start, to ensure safe equipment and workplaces, is in acquisition.

Acquisition is defined by the Defense Acquisition University's Glossary as The conceptualization, initiation, design, development, testing, contracting, production, deployment, Logistics Support (LS), modification, and disposal of weapons and other systems, supplies, or services (including construction) to satisfy DoD needs, intended for use in, or in support of military missions.

The Navy's Safety Program is dedicated to enhancing readiness but ensuring every Navy and Marine Corps workplace, both ashore and afloat, is as free from hazards as possible. Each day thousands of safety professionals team up with Navy and Marine Corps workers and leadership to establish and maintain safe work environments in what are often inherently hazardous settings - aboard military ships and aircraft at sea as well as at ground and shore facilities. Safety professionals pursue the Navy and Marine Corps's goals in many ways: they train personnel in safe practices and procedures; they oversee the procurement, installation, and maintenance of safety equipment and systems; and they continually provide recommendations for improving safety conditions.

Effective acquisition safety increase productivity through streamlined work processes and avoidance of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. It saves large sums of money by avoiding expensive retrofits due to poor design, disability and retraining costs, and lost productivity. It improves military quality of life and military retention.

A National Safety Council Study of the Department of Defense Safety Program estimated safety losses to the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Defense agencies to be $10 to $20 billion per year. Adding focus to acquisition safety will significantly reduce these losses.

One of the most effective ways to ensure the safety of a system, whether as complex as a ship or an aircraft or as uncomplicated as an aerosol dispenser, is to incorporate health and safety requirements before buying or building the system, at the very beginning of the acquisition process. With the advent of rapid technological advancement and the very real threat to our national security, the traditionally long acquisition cycle of 10-15 years is no longer acceptable. In recent years, acquisition reform has accelerated the rate at which leading edge technology is harnessed for military use. Today, acquisition reform is achieved through targeting a three-pronged approach:

  • Delivery of advanced technology through rapid acquisition
  • Reduction of total ownership costs (TOC) using cost as an independent variable (CAIV) assessment; and
  • Ensuring interoperability, supportability, and affordability by integrating the acquisition and logistics processes.

Providing a safe and healthful workplace to all Department of the Navy (DoN) personnel by identifying and avoiding hazards early in the acquisition process is one of the DoN’s great challenges. This challenge will be met only by designing and building systems that control such established safety and occupational health hazards as noise, vibration, falls, electric shock, and chemical contamination. It is the goal of this website to promote the incorporation of safety and occupational health factors into all stages of the Defense Acquisition Process by discussing the challenges, communicating information on Best Practices, and by sharing successful DoN acquisition safety and health initiatives.

This portion of our website is a work in progress for addressing the most significant safety challenges facing the Defense Acquisition and safety communities during planning of ship, weapons, and aircraft systems. The Safety Challenges are:

  1. Confined Space Entry
  2. Ergonomics/Human Systems Integration (HFE)
  3. Fall Protection
  4. Heat Stress
  5. Lasers
  6. Noise
  7. Non-Ionizing Radiation
  8. Ventilation
  9. Vibration
  10. Electrical Safety/Hazardous Energy

How to Contribute

We need input from the Defense Acquisition community to address each of the Acquisition Safety challenges that are the subject of this website. Grow with us as we share information on how to meet the above challenges through the Defense Acquisition Process. Through the exchange of ideas, information resources, and improvements in methodology and design, these challenges can and will be met.

To submit general information or information on Best Practices, or to submit a success story, please send an email to with the subject line "Acquisition Safety."



 Contact info: 703-695-4705 | POC:
Last Revision: December 15, 2014