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FROM SAFETY ENGINEERING (The Safety Press, Vol. 40, No. 1, July 1920, page 25)

The Scope of Engineering For Safety

Inspired by the question raised in a recent issue of Safety Engineering “Shall there be a special branch of the engineering profession for safety engineers?” a prominent western engineer suggest the idea that not only is all engineering safety engineering but that all organized human endeavor is directed toward safety.

Our correspondent points out that primitive man, without any conscious engineering ability, performed the first safety act when he constructed his hut or piled a protective barrier of stones at the entrance to his cave; that human society has for its fundamental object the protection which comes from cooperation and mutual assistance.

That is all true, but in the subsequent complication of human relationships—particularly in the last two centuries of invention, manufacturing and commerce- –specialization has set in so that today no civilized being can construct his own house, make his own clothes or provide for his own transportation from place to place.

Each of us does his own little bit. All of us wear shoes but a very small number of the human race can make a comfortable pair. All of us wear garments of cloth, but the great majority of people haven’t the faintest idea of the operation of a loom. All of us eat meat but most of us would turn with horror from the thought of killing an ox.

All of us eat bread but the average man, particularly in the city, could not raise wheat nor could he grind it. All of us live in houses with glass windows, which we accept as a matter of course, but none but a very few, in proportion to the whole population, can make a pane of window glass. Therefore, while Safety Engineering is truly as universal in its application as window glass and shoes and bread and meat it can most properly and effectively be practiced by specialists who study hazards and their correction and who with a mind concentrated on this particular branch can work with greater effectiveness.

There is no reason why every one should feel that he is a safety engineer any more than there is that every man should make his own shoes or weave his own clothing. And as this discussion progresses we become more and more convinced that Safety Engineering should be a specialized branch of engineering and that it should be practiced by men especially trained for this work.

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