Safety – it’s designed to protect everyone

By Jeff Salton on June 15th, 2017

Safety in design is a key issue for all organisations. In 2003, a report prepared for the UK Health & Safety Executive into causal factors in construction accidents found that almost half of those studied could have been mitigated through a design change and that many designers were still failing to address the safety implications of their designs and specifications. A similar finding would likely have been found in Australia at the time.

Fast forward almost 15 years and the level of knowledge around safe design has increased significantly. Safe design is now recognised as being a process whereby control measures are integrated early in the design process to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety during the lifecycle of the design.

To assist businesses, in 2014, most jurisdictions in Australia endorsed a Safe Work Australia Code of Practice – Safe Design of Structures that highlighted the importance of the role of the designer in ensuring the safety of the design of structures for users at various stages of the structure’s foreseeable use.

Safe design extends to plant and equipment as well.

Safe Work Australia also published a resource that provides a guide to how to safely design plant used in the workplace.

Winner of Good Design award

And last week, excellence in this important area of safety was recognised when Bombardier Transportation Australia was awarded the winner for Good Design for 2017 for its next generation tram, which optimises driver sightlines and delivers enhanced driver and passenger safety.

At the award ceremony, the CEO of Safe Work Australia said: “Bombardier’s entry into the Good Design Awards excelled against Safe Work Australia’s safety criteria, using innovative ergonomic design features to enhance both driver and public safety. We were also impressed by the company’s commitment to safety during the manufacturing process.”

And for your own organisation, whether you are involved in designing a structure (including the layout of a workplace) or plant, remember safe design applies to every stage in the lifecycle – from conception through to disposal. It involves eliminating hazards or minimising risks as early in the lifecycle as possible.

Consider the design when it is being:

  • constructed or manufactured;
  • imported, supplied or installed;
  • commissioned, used or operated;
  • maintained, repaired, cleaned, and/or modified;
  • de-commissioned, demolished and/or dismantled; and
  • disposed of or recycled.

Remember to apply hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control processes to achieve safe design in those stages.

Use effective communication and documentation of design and risk control information among everyone involved in the phases of the lifecycle is essential for the safe design approach.

And for all the health and safety information you need to legally meet your obligations to workers and visitors at your worksite, be sure to consult the Health & Safety Handbook. With more than 70 chapters ranging from Alcohol and Other Drugs through to Working At Heights, the Health & Safety Handbook has all your answers – written in plain English by the experts at Holding Redlich lawyers.

Make sure to order your copy today.

PS: The Good Design Awards winning entry can be viewed at here.

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