Dr. Karen Chen

Dr. Karen Chen

Industrial and Systems Engineering

Phone: 919-515-6403
Fax: 919-515-5281
Instructor Website

ISE 741 Systems Safety Engineering

3 Credit Hours

Identifying and recognizing potential safety hazards and the concept of risk assessment. Preliminary Hazard Analysis, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, System and Subsystem Hazard Analysis, Fault Tree Analysis, Process Safety Management (29CFR1910.119) are explored together with applications to hazard analysis and control. Industrial situations and case studies are employed to illustrate usefulness of various system safety techniques.


Graduate standing and/or ISE 541 Occupational Safety Engineering.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course the students will have developed:

  • an understanding of the systems safety engineering process, as applied to the design of complex systems;
  • knowledge of safety management principles and the elements of an effective systems safety program;
  • knowledge of a variety of hazard identification and assessment methods and techniques;
  • an understanding of risk reduction strategies and the hazard reduction sequence;
  • knowledge of the application of systems safety engineering principles through the study of pragmatic examples and case studies.

Course Requirements

Homework: Homework and supplemental readings will be assigned throughout the course.
There will be two homework assignments requiring application of specific system safety analysis techniques (e.g., hazard analysis, fault-tree analysis, sneak-circuit analysis, etc.) to example problems. The problems will be quantitative in nature and each assignment will be worth 25 points. Students will also be required to prepare two summaries based on selected supplemental readings (systems safety research articles). Each summary will also be worth 25 points.

Examinations: There will be a midterm and final exam as part of the course. Both exams will pose quantitative problems as well as applications of aspects of specific systems safety techniques. Each exam will be worth 100 points. The final exam will not be comprehensive but will only cover the material following the mid-term through the close of the course.

Projects: Three-person student teams will be required to complete a system safety engineering analysis project. Teams will be permitted to select from a variety of real-world case studies (e.g., Three-mile Island Unit 2 Plant meltdown, Love Canal tragedy, Space Shuttle Challenger incident, BP Horizon Rig accident) to align with their area of interest. Projects will require a literature on the incident, identification of various types of hazards that were present in the system, application of a systems safety analysis method based on published data, reporting of results of the method, and inferences and conclusions on how hazard exposures could have been reduced. The project is to be documented in a 15-20 page report, which will be worth 100 points.


Ericson, C. A. (2016). Hazard Analysis Techniques for System Safety (2nd Edn.). New York: Wiley.


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