An Introduction to Safe Design
What is Safe Design?
Sometimes referred to as “safety in design”, this is the discipline of identifying risks (typically to constructors, end-users and maintainers) and eliminating them, or integrating control measures to minimise them, during the design process.
Why should I implement safety into my design processes?
Besides the opportunity to minimise delays, reduce the risk of injury or death to users, and improve client satisfaction, Safe Design is a legal requirement under the WHS Act. Section 22 of the Act requires designers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that a structure is designed to be without risks to the health and safety of persons who construct the structure, use the structure as a workplace, or carry out any reasonable foreseeable activity.
Who is considered a designer under the Act?
A designer is anyone whose work involves preparing sketches, plans or drawings for a structure, including anyone who makes variations to a plan or otherwise changes a structure. This could be the designer, the constructor, or even the client in some instances.
Other examples include architects, building designers, engineers, building surveyors, interior designers, landscape architects, town planners, and specialist designers, such as those who design ventilation, electrical systems, or drainage.
It should be noted that if you modify a design without consulting the designer, you take on the WHS legal obligations of a designer.
What is the scope of the Safe Design risk assessment?
Safe Design considers the whole of life-cycle, from construction through to demolition and disposal. It’s often best to schedule multiple risk assessments throughout the design process to consider these different aspects.
When do I need to start Safe Design?
It’s a current requirement of WHS law and was actually included in previous laws in most jurisdictions of Australia.
In terms of when to schedule it in your design process, risks should be identified throughout, starting at concept development. At this early stage, risk management may contribute to decisions about intended use(s), location, and proposed materials.
What if I’m a constructor, not a designer?
Under WHS regulations, you must consult with the designer, so far as is reasonably practicable, to determine how health and safety risks to you and your people, arising from their design, can be eliminated or minimised.
You must also provide the designer with any hazard information that you have been provided by the client, or identified through other means (e.g. surveys, testing, etc.).
Finally, as previously mentioned, you must ensure that you do not modify the design without first consulting the designer. The designer will consider any health & safety implications of your suggested changes before giving you the go ahead.
Want to know more?
If you want to know more about Safe Design or need assistance to implement this or other WHS legal requirements in your organisation, call OSHEM Solutions on 1300 657 279 or Contact Us by email.