The creation of an engineering-based systematic process for predicting how energy flow can cause injury and for developing safeguards to prevent such injury by Richard Nute, Ray Corson, and James Gordon Barrick, Jr., has taken safety standards to a new level and resulted in the development of safer products to protect people around the world. Originally developed by the trio as an internal course for engineers at Hewlett-Packard, what is now known as Hazard-Based Safety Engineering (HBSE) is based on a three-block model for injury: energy source–energy transfer–body injury. Nute, Corson, and Barrick extended this model to describe methods of energy flow from an energy source through some transfer mechanism into the human body, which allows safety engineers to determine the necessary characteristics of the transfer mechanism (the “safeguard”) to sufficiently block or attenuate the energy transfer so that there is no injury. Nute, Corson, and Barrick went on to teach HSBE to engineers at other companies and around the world. Whereas traditional product safety standards were predicated on preventing the recurrence of past safety incidents, HBSE allows for predicting a safe product design. HBSE principles, when implemented during the product design cycle, allow designers to have substantially increased confidence that their design will result in a safe product and that the costs related to the safety design will be reasonable. The HBSE coursework includes evaluation and experimentation with electrical, thermal burn, and electrically caused fire hazards and is also applicable to the protection of sensitive infrastructure and facilities.
An IEEE Life Fellow and recipient of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s 1906 Award (2007), Nute is currently a product safety consultant residing in Bend, OR, USA.