Safety Engineers employ engineering principles and practices to eliminate or control hazardous conditions resulting from human error, equipment and machine operations which may lead to injury to persons and damage to property. The work requires the application of: advanced mathematical techniques; professional engineering principles, methods, and techniques; safety related elements of the physical sciences, ergonomics, psychology and physiology; and safety principles, standards, practices, and analytical techniques. The safety engineer applies knowledge of psychological and physiological factors to design safety features and controls, compensating for the possibility of human errors in the operation of machinery and equipment.
Within the Army, professional safety engineering work is performed in a wide variety of environments such as systems design; research, development, test and evaluation; facility design, construction, operation and maintenance; ordnance and explosives waste and hazardous and toxic waste remediation; transportation; and industrial and manufacturing operations. The safety engineer is concerned with the identification, analysis and control of occupational hazards requiring the application of professional engineering knowledge, skill, and abilities. Typically, safety engineers are involved in the following kinds of activities:
- advise on system safety requirements based on historical and anecdotal failure data, software failure analysis, and failure mode analysis of such factors as fatigue, stability, and stress;
- develop and apply methods for the safe installation of storage and transmission systems for hazardous and toxic liquids and gases;
- design protective equipment or safety devices or redesign machines and equipment to eliminate occupational hazards;
- design and site operation and storage facilities for ammunition and explosives;
- design and site protective structures and equipment for ordnance and explosives waste and hazardous and toxic waste remediation activities;
- review engineering plans and specifications and design and implement system/facility changes to improve lifecycle safety;
- conduct field studies to identify potential hazards and design/validate adequacy of hazard control measures;
- design test protocols and evaluate results to validate the safety of systems;
- review proposed safety policies, guidelines and standards to determine their consistency with accepted engineering principles and practices and recommend technical changes as needed.