Things that are Safe

Today I attempted to map common man-made objects on a “harm continuum.” I’m curious to see where the products I’m designing might land on such a map.

On the far left, things that are dangerous: Weapons of mass destruction, motorcycles, power tools… On the far right, things that are safe. …Here’s where I stumbled.

So what are some really ‘safe’ man-made things?

cotton balls?

Bed, pillow?


Well, you mentioned “powertools”… Powertools are solutions created to execute a particular job more efficiently and thus safer in most cases, so in many ways, it can be safe objects too. There are also many ways to define powertools. Some see it as solution. Some see it as the presence of problems.

Impact resistant foam as found in bicycle helmets


Most infant toys are extremely safe. Teethers, Plush, etc. are designed to be soft and non-threatening, even for clumsy little hands…

Good ones!

If WMD’s can ‘harm’ the most amount of people, what things could ‘save’ the most amount of people? What man made creation has done the most good?

Clothing (warmth)
Water filtration
Vaccines, medicine
Transportation (to deliver essentials)
Communication systems (911 etc.)
Weather forecast systems

All systems that produce electricity - If we didn’t have it we wouldn’t have made much progress!

If WMD’s can ‘harm’ the most amount of people, what things could ‘save’ the most amount of people?


WMD kept the cold war cold.

Great point, but that aresenal didn’t used to exist, and it’s damned dangerous.

I also thought of Vaccine’s as the ‘most safe.’

Not so sure about electricity. Yes it’s convenient, but how has it saved lives that couldn’t have been saved by other sources of energy?

C’mon man, your in the medical industry!

From the lights in the emergency room for those late night incidents, to the defibrillator.

Vaccine can be used as political tool for all you know.

Nothing is harmful or safe. Well, I believe that 99.99% of the things created were created for the benefit of people. Who these people are and whether you are within this group of people will define the status of these things. It’s all relative.

Here’s the biggest killer: the Hanging Chad.

Without it life would be very different right now for many, many people across the world.

The defibrillator is a good example, but it’s probably only saved thousands, not millions, per year. That puts it in near the middle of the continuum.

Lighting, warmth etc. can be provided by other means.



How about…

Life jacket (preserver)

Life rafts

Safetly belts in cars

Air bags

Crash Helmets

Stop lights and pedestrian cross lights


True that. I’m just looking through the World Health Organization statistics and condom usage comes up frequently.

True, but not man-made.