What is a Safe Design?
The designer must ensure, so far as it is reasonably
practicable, that the plan, substance or structure is designed
to be without risks to the health and safety of persons. The
Designer must show evidence of systematic risk assessment
process and provide a report to the person commissioning the
design. Safe design is the integration of hazard identification, risk
assessment and control methods early in the design process to
eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety throughout the
construction and life of the structure being designed.
Major international studies show that up to 75% of workplace
injuries could be avoided if safety was considered early in the
design stage. Safety in design involves the design considering
safety at the concept stage and assessing any hazards and
implementing design solutions.
National safety legislation
New Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Harmonisation,
legislation will be harmonised across Australia. Five
jurisdictions have confirmed readiness and have enacted the
model Act and Regulations to commence from 1 January 2012
including the Commonwealth, Queensland, NSW, NT and ACT.
Queensland have passed the Qld Work Health and Safety Act 2011
and QLD Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 based on this
As part of meeting designer's obligations under the 2011 WHS Act
and Regulations you are required to prepare a safety report and
issue this to the client where the client is a PCBU. The aim of
this report is to help prevent possibly future injuries or death
by identifying, assessing and eliminating hazards or potential
risks at the design stage. You also have a legal obligation to
do this under the legislation, specifically section 295 of the
WHS Regulation 2011.
Designers should be familiar with the WHS
Act and Regulations 2011 and Codes of Practice. In particular
Designers should review s46, s61 and s294-296 of the QWHS
Regulation 2011; s22 of the WHS Act 2011; and the Code of
Practice ‘Safe Design of Buildings and Structures’ for
information on their statutory obligations under the
Duties of a designer under the national safety legislation
As a designer you have a duty under the Act and Regulations to
consider that the structure be designed to be without risk any
time that it is to be used as or at a workplace. The designer
must also undertake any testing and analysis required to fulfil
You must also ensure that the structure be designed to eliminate
or minimise the need for any hazardous manual task to be carried
out and give information to each person who is provided with the
design about any features that eliminate the need for these task
to be carried out.
Under Regulation 295 the designer must give a safety report to
the person conducting a business or undertaking who commissions
the design. This report must specify the hazards relating to
that particular design. If you are working on a design that
another designer has prepared (eg. as a drafting job or for a
renovation) you must obtain a copy of the report from the
What is a systematic risk assessment process?
The Code of practice for Safe design of buildings and structures
recommends that a systems approach that integrates the design
process with the risk management process be used. This includes
establishing client consultation, conducting a preliminary risk
assessment process, determining how hazards will be prevented or
eliminated through implementing standards controls or conducting
a risk management process and review. These can be controlled by
either eliminating the risk,
substitution, isolation, engineering, administration and PPE
(personal protective equipment).
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