Duties of Designers under Safe Design legislation
‘Safe design’ of structures involves designers preventing potential injuries by
considering safety throughout the design process.
Analysis of fatal accidents on building sites show that many are due to shortcomings in design as well as organisational problems. So what are the duties of designers during the design process to ensure they meet safety in design requirements?
In the early stages of a project, there is greater scope to remove foreseeable hazards through design. Prevention is the most effective and affordable way to improve the safety of workers and requires the least effort compared with making changes at later stages.
Duties of designers as ‘upstream duty holders’
Designers of structures are known as ‘upstream duty holders’ and make decisions every day, as part of their expertise, which affect the safety of the people who work on, or in, these structures further ‘downstream’ in the structure’s lifecycle.
These include people who construct the structure, who use the structure for the purpose for which it is designed, who maintain the structure, or who demolish the structure at the end of its life. It also includes the safety of people in the vicinity of the structure. That’s a lot to think about!
Concerns about safe design legislation
So, just what are designers concerns about safe design legislation, and are they justified?
An online poll conducted by Safe Design Australia^ showed, alarmingly, up to 44.5% of those surveyed had a lack of knowledge about the legislation, with a further 31.5% having a fear of prosecution under the legislation. 19% of those polled felt that it restricted their creativity, and only 5% had no concerns.
Understanding WHS obligations and legislation
Knowledge of safe design is relatively low industry-wide. The majority of designers have no formal education in this area. And, research has shown that while designers of structures may be aware of safe design legislation, very few can nominate their specific obligations under the legislation.
It is important that designers understand safe design legislation and how to incorporate safe design into their standard design process.
Learning and understanding the current legislative requirements is the best way to overcome any concerns about safety in design.
Why is safe design important?
It is important to remember that the intent of the legislation is to improve the safety of workplaces, not to prosecute designers. Designers can protect themselves by discharging their legislative duties and by designing structures to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.
Designers have the opportunity to make a difference to the health and safety of workers and end users of structures through safe design. By approaching safe design with innovation and creativity, designers can create safer workplaces without compromising the integrity of their designs.
Benefits of safe design*
There are a number of benefits to safe design including:
- preventing injury and illness,
- improving usability of structures,
- improving productivity,
- reducing production and operational costs, and
- encouraging innovation.
And, most importantly, saving people’s lives!
How can designers learn about their safe design obligations?
Let’s be honest – no one gets excited about safety. But what if it wasn’t boring? The team from Safe Design Australia have developed a flexible and convenient online training course specifically focussed on Safety in Design (SiD) for design professionals
The online course has been designed by international safe design expert and WHS professional, John Daly, and provides the latest information, advice and tools relating to safe design practices in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. It’s easy to access and can support your Continuing Professional Development.
Contact us to find out more
To find out more about the duties of designers under safe design legislation, or how we may assist you with a Safe Design Workshop for your next design project, contact us.