Public Safety Around Dams

For CDA Members 

CDA uses the terms public safety around dams to refer to the risks of accidents or incidents in which a member of the public encounters a hazard created by the presence or operation of a dam. This does not include the risks to the public from failure of a dam (this is called dam safety), or situations related to passage of floods (emergency management), or hazards to workers in the workplace (occupational safety).

It is worth noting that large or high dams command a respect from members of the public that may be greater than that which exists for low structures. However, low head and small diversion dams can be equally or more hazardous, because many of the hazards associated with these structures are not readily apparent. 

Public Safety Working Group

A working group has been formed under the oversight of the Dam Safety Committee. The group is made up of CDA members who are experienced in public safety risk assessments and have been trained as presenters for the workshops on Public Safety Around Dams. This group will provide instruction at future workshops and will consider revisions to the Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams. From time to time, the Working Group will prepare and publish clarifications.

Since individual advice and instruction cannot be provided by the Working Group except in a formal workshop, if you have a question that might be of interest to others, you are invited to submit it to


In 2011, CDA published Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams in English and French. To purchase Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams, please look in the CDA Store for EN - Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams 2011 - this document is available in both print and electronic (PDF) versions. The English version of these Guidelines contains a few errors, mainly in the French signage examples, and an Errata sheet can be downloaded.

Professional Development

As a member society of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), CDA is recognized as a quality provider of professional development to the engineering community. For more details, see the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT tab on the website.

CDA offers an intensive two-day Public Safety Workshop to educate small groups on the risk assessment process outlined in Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams. See the Workshops tab or contact to inquire about a workshop in your location.