19 min read

Workplace design, modification and purchasing

Last updated November 2020

What is safe workplace design?

Definition: Workplace Design

Workplace design refers to the consideration of construction, maintenance and use of:
- workplace layout;
- plant design; and
- the design of buildings and other structures.

You should incorporate safe design principles in all aspects of a workplace, including:

  • the physical layout of the worksite;
  • the design of furniture and equipment;
  • lighting;
  • ventilation;
  • noise; and
  • temperature.
Important: Safe workplace design can help you meet your health and safety duty to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, risks to the health and safety of people in the workplace by reducing your business’s exposure to risk.

Safe design principles can benefit you and your workers by:

  • preventing injury and illness by eliminating hazards at the design stage;
  • improving the effectiveness of the work area;
  • increasing workers’ morale, productivity and efficiency;
  • helping workers to comply with health and safety legislation;
  • reducing costs through improved production or environmental efficiency; and
  • promoting innovation through safe design.
Caution: Poor workplace design is a major contributor to a range of workplace injuries and illnesses. Poorly designed structures and plant increase the risk of workplace incidents, including collisions, trips and falls, and manual-handling injuries.

A steel fabricator and a designer worked together to determine the safest and most efficient way to build and install steel framing for a multi-level stairway in a high-rise car park.

The reviewed design resulted in a stairway that could be preassembled at ground level and lifted into place in one piece.

Because of these design changes, less work was needed to be performed at height by the installer, which provided a higher level of safety for workers.
Caution: Do not blame workers for workplace incidents that could be caused by design failures. A poorly designed structure, plant or workplace makes it harder for them to work safely and efficiently.