Posted May 11th, 2017 by Tyler Irving

U of T Engineering students earn 2017 Minerva Canada James Ham Safe Design award

  • Left to right, back row: Professor Grant Allen (ChemE); Larry Masotti, WSPS and Minerva Canada Board Member; Lynn Brownell, President, WSPS; Prof. Graeme Norval (ChemE), Minerva Canada Board Member; Tony Pasteris, President, Minerva Canada. Front row: Kayla Musalem, Katie Dritsas and Andrew Kostruba (all year 4 ChemE), the 2017 winners of the Minerva Canada James Ham Safe Design competition.

Safety planning should never be an afterthought, yet small businesses often lack the resources and expertise to meet industry standards. A new tool developed by four U of T Engineering students could help bridge this gap to prevent accidents and save lives.

“When we first started, I don’t think any of us fully realized how big of an impact this project would make, not just to industry, but to each of us personally,” said Kenny Wei (Year 4 ChemE) in an e-mail. “There’s no better satisfaction than to see a project we have worked hard on be recognized for increasing safety through engineering design and benefit society.”

The team — consisting of Wei and his fellow fourth-year ChemE engineering students Andrew Kostruba, Katie Dritsas and Kayla Musalem — has developed a document that small businesses can use to develop a process safety management system that meets their needs.

The tool ensures that companies are compliant with CSA Z767, a new process safety management standard that was published in February 2017. The award was presented May 3 at the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) Partners in Prevention Conference in Mississauga, Ontario on May 3rd.

“I’m very proud of what the students have accomplished,” said Professor Graeme Norval (ChemE), who advised the team. “Their project will greatly assist small businesses in complying with the new standard, which will have a significant impact on the safety of workers across Canada.”

The Minerva Canada James Ham Safe Design competition challenges engineering undergraduate students from across Canada to make an original contribution toward integrating safety into engineering design. Students are asked to suggest ways to improve the existing design of devices, processes or systems, envision new, innovative designs that will eliminate or reduce potential hazards, and create tools to help manufacturers and workplaces integrate safety into new or retrofit designs.

The award is named in honour of James Milton Ham whose Report of the Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines led to the creation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1979 and to the adoption of the Internal Responsibility System in Ontario workplaces. Professor Ham is the former head of Electrical Engineering (1964-66), dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering (1966-1973) and president of the University of Toronto (1978-83).

This is the fifth year in a row that U of T Engineering students have received one of the top two Minerva prizes.