Special Issue "Safe-by-Design: Conceptualizations, Principles, Operationalizations and Practices"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Pieter van Gelder
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Section of Safety and Security Science, Department of Values, Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: system safety; probabilistic risk analysis; reliability engineering; decision-making under uncertainties; extreme value statistics
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Behnam Taebi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Values, Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands
2. Delft Safety & Security Institute, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: responsible innovation; values in design, ethics of sustainability; safety and security governance; engineering ethics
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Zoë Robaey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Philosophy Group, Department of Social Science, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Interests: ethics of technology, biotechnology, safe-by-design, responsible research and innovation, inclusive innovation, engineering ethics
Dr. Pim Klaassen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Interests: transdisciplinarity; safe-by-design; responsible research and innovation; STS; ethics in life sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, we have seen an increase in attention to research and innovation for society’s grand challenges, for instance as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals and visible in national and European mission-directed research and innovation programs. Efforts are undertaken to proactively build on the realization that the outcomes of today’s research and innovation should not only help resolve today’s societal problems in the spheres of climate, energy, mobility, aging, or urbanization, but that they should be designed such that they do not bring forth their own, novel problems. Under labels such as responsible research and innovation, or science with and for society, investments are made to incorporate societal needs in research and innovation agendas and to engage in research and innovation in a reflective, anticipative, forward-looking, and simultaneously responsive way. This serves the purpose, amongst other things, of preventing future risks and addressing ethical, legal, and societal issues early on in research and innovation, to avoid having to provide a “cure” later on. Of course, this preventive rationale has gained more force in light of the transition to a circular economy, in which products and materials are intended to escape the linear produce–consume–dispose pathway. In several fields of emerging technologies, much of such thinking has been undertaken under the tag of safe-by-design. Safe-by-design is a design approach that makes safety a core value, based on the aforementioned consideration that preventing harm is better than curing it. The safe-by-design approach acknowledges the importance of safety in all phases of research and innovation trajectories and potentially looks at safety as integral to the entire chain any research or innovation trajectory is but a component of. What, however, this precisely entails in terms of risk assessment, risk management, chain coordination, and so on, will vary from one field to the next. This also holds for whether or not the safe-by-design approach introduces novelties in dealing with risks and safety issues, or whether it is already an established practice, with lessons learned and showcase examples. At present, there is no clear overview of what meanings are attributed to safe-by-design in different disciplines, making it hard for different perspectives to become pertinent to each other. Thus, questions emerge such as (i) whether or to what extent we can speak of one safe-by-design approach at all, pertinent to any and all disciplines, sectors or fields of application? (ii) what lessons can be drawn from conceptualizing or operationalizing safe-by-design drawn in one place can be applied elsewhere? (iii) what hurdles need to be overcome for the successful translocation of safe-by-design conceptualizations, principles, and practices from one place to another? This Special Issue invites authors to submit manuscripts to disseminate knowledge on the above issues, as well as methods and techniques on how to deal with them. Case studies illustrating safe-by-design approaches are also welcome.

Prof. Pieter van Gelder
Dr. Behnam Taebi
Dr. Zoë Robaey
Dr. Pim Klaassen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • safe-by-design
  • secure-by-design
  • risk-based design
  • design for values
  • responsible research and innovation
  • science with and for society

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Article
Safe-by-Design in Engineering: An Overview and Comparative Analysis of Engineering Disciplines
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6329; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126329 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 969
Abstract
In this paper, we provide an overview of how Safe-by-Design is conceived and applied in practice in a large number of engineering disciplines. We discuss the differences, commonalities, and possibilities for mutual learning found in those practices and identify several ways of putting [...] Read more.
In this paper, we provide an overview of how Safe-by-Design is conceived and applied in practice in a large number of engineering disciplines. We discuss the differences, commonalities, and possibilities for mutual learning found in those practices and identify several ways of putting those disciplinary outlooks in perspective. The considered engineering disciplines in the order of historically grown technologies are construction engineering, chemical engineering, aerospace engineering, urban engineering, software engineering, bio-engineering, nano-engineering, and finally cyber space engineering. Each discipline is briefly introduced, the technology at issue is described, the relevant or dominant hazards are examined, the social challenge(s) are observed, and the relevant developments in the field are described. Within each discipline the risk management strategies, the design principles promoting safety or safety awareness, and associated methods or tools are discussed. Possible dilemmas that the designers in the discipline face are highlighted. Each discipline is concluded by discussing the opportunities and bottlenecks in addressing safety. Commonalities and differences between the engineering disciplines are investigated, specifically on the design strategies for which empirical data have been collected. We argue that Safe-by-Design is best considered as a specific elaboration of Responsible Research and Innovation, with an explicit focus on safety in relation to other important values in engineering such as well-being, sustainability, equity, and affordability. Safe-by-Design provides for an intellectual venue where social science and the humanities (SSH) collaborate on technological developments and innovation by helping to proactively incorporate safety considerations into engineering practices, while navigating between the extremes of technological optimism and disproportionate precaution. As such, Safe-by-Design is also a practical tool for policymakers and risk assessors that helps shape governance arrangements for accommodating and incentivizing safety, while fully acknowledging uncertainty. Full article
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Article
Value Conflicts in Designing for Safety: Distinguishing Applications of Safe-by-Design and the Inherent Safety Principles
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1963; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041963 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1157
Abstract
Although both the Inherent Safety Principles (ISPs) and the Safe-by-Design (SbD) approach revolve around the central value of safety, they have a slightly different focus in terms of developing add-on features or considering initial design choices. This paper examines the differences between these [...] Read more.
Although both the Inherent Safety Principles (ISPs) and the Safe-by-Design (SbD) approach revolve around the central value of safety, they have a slightly different focus in terms of developing add-on features or considering initial design choices. This paper examines the differences between these approaches and analyses which approach is more suitable for a specific type of research—fundamental or applied. By applying the ISPs and SbD to a case study focusing on miniaturized processes using Hydrogen Cyanide, we find that both approaches encounter internal value-conflicts and suffer from external barriers, or lock-ins, which hinder implementation of safety measures. By applying the Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), we gain insight in the matureness of a technology (thereby distinguishing fundamental and applied research) and the extent of lock-ins being present. We conclude that the ISPs are better able to deal with lock-ins, which are more common in applied research stages, as this approach provides guidelines for add-on safety measures. Fundamental research is not subject to lock-ins yet, and therefore SbD would be a more suitable approach. Lastly, application of either approach should not be associated with a specific field of interest, but instead with associated known or uncertain risks. Full article
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Article
Safe by Design Regulation for Academic Experimentation and Value Conflicts: An Exploration of Solution Directions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1554; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041554 - 06 Feb 2021
Viewed by 813
Abstract
In this paper, we explore solution directions for the implementation of Safe by Design (SbD) in safety regimes for academic experimentation. SbD is a dynamic and anticipatory strategy for safety regulation in academic research. In this strategy, safety is taken in a broader [...] Read more.
In this paper, we explore solution directions for the implementation of Safe by Design (SbD) in safety regimes for academic experimentation. SbD is a dynamic and anticipatory strategy for safety regulation in academic research. In this strategy, safety is taken in a broader sense including not only issues of technical precaution of avoiding risks of experimentation but also the societal responsibility of researchers and research institutes of identifying possible future risks. In our research, we have interviewed academic researchers from different disciplines and university support personnel about the factors that enable and limit the possibilities of researchers to implement SbD in safety regimes for experimentation. We articulate our findings in terms of a core set of research values and in terms of conflicts between safety and these research values. And we argue that tools for resolving value conflicts as originating in design for values research can provide directions to solve the value conflicts, and thus help academic researchers to adopt SbD in their experimentation. Full article

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Concept Paper
Application of the Safe-by-Design Concept in Crop Breeding Innovation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6420; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176420 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2499
Abstract
The present paper proposes the application of the safe-by-design concept to crop breeding innovation with the aim to accommodate safety considerations for new agricultural food and feed products. Safe-by-design can be implemented in all stages of the innovation cycle of agricultural products, from [...] Read more.
The present paper proposes the application of the safe-by-design concept to crop breeding innovation with the aim to accommodate safety considerations for new agricultural food and feed products. Safe-by-design can be implemented in all stages of the innovation cycle of agricultural products, from the early stages of research and development towards the post-market stage. Our proposed application of safe-by-design can be part of “responsible research and innovation” concepts, because they share features such as risk prevention strategies and a participatory approach. Early awareness of potential safety issues can guide the development of agricultural products towards safe options, both at the process and product level, and thus may help to reduce extensive pre-market assessment studies that might otherwise be needed further downstream for regulatory product approval. Here, it is discussed how the proposed safe-by-design approach can be introduced into the development of safe food crops using emerging technologies, such as gene editing and synthetic biology, and how this may help to safeguard the safety of our food and feed supply in the light of the ongoing global innovations in agricultural crop breeding. Full article
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