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Allowable Stress Meaning and Applications in Safety

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on December 7, 2020 at 3:35 PM

Sometimes, safety is something incorporated into your office work, like personal protective equipment. Other times, safety is built into the very foundations.

Allowable stress is an excellent example of how safety and engineering intersect from the very beginning to protect people. And while you may not be an engineer, allowable stress meaning and applications are important for EHS professionals to translate safe building principles to safe worker practices.

Here’s a closer look at what allowable stress means, how it applies in your workplace, and how you can use allowable stress to drive safety in your work environment.

Allowable Stress: Meaning and Uses

Allowable stress, or allowable strength, is the maximum stress that can be safely applied to a structure. This is usually defined in building codes and the strength of the metal in question.

In the allowable stress design method, the designer must size the anchorage in such a way that the service load does not exceed the allowable load. The designer has to read the allowable load from the applicable table and adjust for all applicable design parameters for the anchor.

Calculating Allowable Stress

Because the allowable stress determines how much weight a structure can safely bear, it’s a critical piece of design information for an engineer. Calculating allowable stress is a relatively straightforward process.

Allowable stress is determined by a factor of safety and the yield strength of the object, i.e. the stress at which the object will be permanently damaged. As such, calculating allowable stress begins with finding the yield strength of the materials in question.

From there, select a factor of safety. These are usually set by the industry in question since different industries need materials to perform in different ways. If there is no industry standard set, a good overall safety factor is 4.

After that, simply divide the yield strength by the factor of safety to calculate the allowable stress.

How an Engineer Applies Allowable Stress in Safety

In safety, allowable stress is a critical factor in maintaining a sound, stable structure. Without knowing the allowable stress, an engineer won’t know what load a structure can safely bear. When we talk about allowable stress, we’re really talking about how much weight is safe to put on a structure.

The applications in safety are obvious. Take construction, for example, where workers routinely deal with heavy loads. When they’re building a structure, they have to know the allowable stress so they don’t overload it and cause collapse. A scaffold is one example – it’s safe as long as it has a manageable load.

Strengthen Your Safety Understanding

While it’s easy to discard the allowable stress meaning and applications as a concern for engineers, including safety engineers, the truth is that it applies to your work every day. A structure is no longer safe if workers overload it, which means you need to understand how allowable stress works and how it translates into safe work practices. If you’re looking for a smarter way to translate key safety topics into actionable results, our safety management software makes it easy to know where you stand. 

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Incident Management, Safety Management, Safety Culture

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