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Safe Design in Practice: The Construction Phase

Safe Design in Practice: Construction Phase

 

Safe Design Lifecycle: The Construction Phase

Designers need to consider safety of people during the lifecycle of the structure when it will be used as a workplace. The main phases are during:

  • construction of the structure (including civil works stage and demolition of any existing structures),
  • use for the purpose for which the structure is designed,
  • maintenance, cleaning or repair of the structure, and
  • demolition of the structure at end of life.

Below, we’ve provided a few details of the general hazards in the Construction Phase that designers can consider. This is not a complete list, however Designers should follow a systematic approach to identifying hazards. The CHAIR Process may assist in working through the identification process. 

Construction

While designers may not have management and control over the actual construction work, they can discharge their duties by consulting, cooperating and coordinating activities, where reasonably practicable, with those who have control of construction work. They must also alert the principal contractor of any potential hazards that have not been eliminated through the design of the structure. Designers can ensure that the structures that they design can be safely constructed by considering factors such as:

  • identifying site hazards;
  • identifying any services including potential electrical hazards;
  • identifying hazardous substances in existing buildings when designing renovations;
  • considering accessibility and loads of plant required for construction;
  • designing to minimise manual handling by selecting building materials that are robust yet lightweight;
  • eliminating or minimising large or awkward components;
  • designing pre-fabricated components to reduce work at height;
  • designing to ensure that confined spaces are eliminated or the need to enter these is reduced;
  • considering the specification of safer materials and finishes, e.g. low VOC paints, polyester insulation;
  • designing roof parapets to guardrail requirements so that they can be used as edge protection;
  • reducing the spacing of roof trusses and battens or specifying safety mesh to reduce the risk of falls;
  • considering reducing the risk of falls through openings;
  • recommending that permanent stairs be installed early in the construction process to prevent falls and manual task hazards;
  • designing out the need for high risk construction work or communicating information that facilitates safe construction of high risk work; and
  • consulting with the principal contractor and experts in relation to construction safety.

The Code of Practice: Preventing Falls in Housing Construction (2012) provides greater detail including specification requirements.

Industry-specific design and construction hazards

Safe Design Australia has many years of experience working with building designers from around the world on large-scale and small scale commercial and residential developments. We’ve built up a comprehensive library of hazard identification and risk elimination and minimisation options specific to healthcare and hospitals, schools and education facilities, childcare centres, residential multi-storey developments, commercial and retail buildings and more. If you need assistance for your specific project – get in touch! We can help you with specifically customised safe design documentation to assist you in your project.

Talk to us about a Safe Design Workshop

Duties of designers under safe design legislationSafe Design Australia can facilitate workshops for your safe design projects. We’ve developed an effective process for workshops and have conducted workshops from small projects to skyscrapers and complex facilities. We can also facilitate workshops using and adaptation of the CHAIR Process.

If you would like to run your own workshops, we can help you with the tools and training to do this in our Procedures, Templates and Training package.

Need more info, contact us.

Insurance Considerations for Designers

Insurance Considerations for Designers

 

Insurance considerations – are you covered?

It is important that designers are aware of what is covered by their insurance policies in relation to Safe Design and WHS legislation.

Professional indemnity insurance will cover the designer for civil or common law claims, but most do not cover criminal prosecutions or fines and penalties which may arise from a breach of WHS legislation.

We suggest designers familiarise themselves with their existing insurance policies and ensure that they’re covered. A few insurers are now including some form of cover for damages and fines in their professional indemnity insurance packages. We advise you ask your insurer about the extent of the cover provided.

When changing insurers, it’s also important that designers request that the retroactive date be set to unlimited to ensure they’re covered for work prior to changing to the new insurer. If a designer retires or ceases to operate, it would be prudent to obtain ‘run off’ cover as the safe design legislation applies for the life of the structure.

Your Safe Design obligations

Duties of designers under safe design legislation

If you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenient ‘Safe Design Online Short Course’

It has been designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles and is endorsed by the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA)’s Professional Development.

Need more info, contact us.

Safe Design Legislation & Harmonisation

Safe Design Legislation and Harmonisation

 

Legislation and Regulation

As a designer, are you fully aware of the work health and safety legislation and regulations in the State or Territory that you practice?

In 2009, Safe Work Australia (SWA), was established to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. Following a national review into relevant laws across the country, in addition to extensive public consultation, SWA created a model work health and safety (WHS) Act and WHS Regulation endorsed by the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC). The harmonisation of WHS legislation in Australia was proposed to:

  • reduce regulator burdens,
  • protect the health and safety of workers and workplaces,
  • reduce the compliance costs for business, and
  • improve efficiency of regulators.

All states and territories agreed to harmonise their work health and safety laws so each jurisdiction would be similar, however individual state and territory regulators are responsible for adopting and enforcing their own laws. And, designers have a responsibility to ensure they’re meeting the relevant requirements in their individual state or territory.

Understanding the Legislation Framework

The following framework shows how the elements under WHS legislation correlate:


 

  • The Act outlines duties in relation to workplace health and safety including those of designers.
  • Regulations and Mandatory Standards detail the mandatory requirements and provide additional information about how designers can fulfill their duties. Other legislative provisions include the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC) including the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the building laws in each jurisdiction (state or territory).
  • Codes of Practice (COP) and Non-Mandatory Standards provide guidance on how to implement the legislation. Compliance is mandated unless the same or better is achieved.
  • Standards include Australian and technical standards – some are referred to in legislation (law).
  • Guidance Material include industry-specific safety standards and guidance material produced by the regulators and industry.

 

WHS Legislation and Regulation by State or Territory

The legislation and corresponding regulations in each state and territory in Australia vary slightly. It’s important that designers are familiar with their duties in the state or territory in which they practice. The following table has an overview, with relevant links to help.

State or Territory

Legislation Regulator and Harmonisation Date
Australian Capital Territory

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT); and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (ACT).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

WorkSafe ACT

Commenced 1 January 2012

 

 

 

New South Wales

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW); and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

WorkCover NSW and SafeWork NSW

Commenced 1 January 2012

 

 

 

Northern Territory

 

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (NT); and Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 (NT).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

NT WorkSafe

Commenced 1 January 2012

 

 

 

 

Queensland

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld); and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland / WorkCover Qld

Commenced 1 January 2012

 

 

South Australia

 

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA); and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

SafeWork SA

Commenced 1 January 2013

 

 

 

Tasmania

 

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (Tas); and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (Tas)

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

WorkSafe Tasmania

Commenced 1 January 2013

 

 

 

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic); and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (Vic).

Consider safety during:

  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning

Excludes:

  • Construction and Demolition stages
  • Residential dwellings (apart from workplaces)
WorkSafe Victoria

Commencement of National legislation – currently deferred

 

 

 

 

Western Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA); and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning

Excludes:

  • Demolition at end of life
  • Residential dwellings (apart from workplaces)
WorkSafe WA

Commencement of National legislation – currently deferred

 

 

 

 

Commonwealth

 

 

 

 

 

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth); and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth).

Consider safety during:

  • Construction
  • Purpose for which it is designed (Workplaces only)
  • Maintenance, repair, cleaning
  • Demolition

Includes commercial and residential buildings.

Australian Government Comcare

Commenced January 2012

 

NEED MORE INFO? Talk to us.

Duties of designers under safe design legislation

Want to find out more about your Safe Design obligations and how to navigate these in relation to your specific design project? Get in touch! You can also download our FREE EBOOK.

We’ve also developed a great training resource specifically for building designers, architects, engineers, and other building design professionals. Check out our flexible and convenient ‘Safe Design Online Short Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles. It’s endorsed by the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA)’s Professional Development.

Need more info, contact us.

Bridge building and safe design

Build a bridge. Get over it.

 

Bridge building and safe design

Over the past few months, bridge construction and safety has been a hot topic – from the tragedy of the Genoa Bridge collapse, to the opening of the longest sea bridge in the world, bridge design is pushing the bar higher and higher. Here’s a snapshot of the recent articles on safe design of bridges.

World’s longest sea bridge opens

Feat of engineering or bridge of death? Designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, the world’s longest sea bridge opened in October, connecting Hong Kong to the mainland of China.

  • $20 billion project.
  • 55kms in length.
  • 18 deaths during construction.

So is it worth it? Full article: ABC News.

Artificial Intelligence for Bridges

New technologies are being developed to provide 24/7 structural health monitoring (SHM) of large structures including bridges, dams and buildings. These systems are now providing at call information on structural health and alerting owners to maintenance needs or other potential hazards and risks.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is being fitted with 2400 sensors to monitor its structural health – to detect damage caused by traffic, wind, temperature, vibration and extreme events. Relying on advancements in technology is great, but this doesn’t reduce the role that the designer has to play in the design and construction of safe structures.

Full article: Queensland University of Technology News.

Record-breaking bridge spans

UK engineers say they’ve created novel bridge designs that could make 5km long spans possible. The engineers have identified bridge concepts that require “the minimum possible volume of material” to create longer bridge spans.

Can they go too far? Is this a bit of a stretch?

Full article: Create Digital.

The Genoa Bridge Tragedy

On 14 August 2018, a viaduct – a major motorway, constructed in the 1960s in the north of Italy, collapsed, killing 43 people. Cars, trucks and people dropped suddenly, crashing to the ground 150 metres below. Sounds surreal in this day and age. But it did happen.

Read more.

 

FIND OUT MORE

Duties of designers under safe design legislation

Safe Design Australia are a team of work health and safety consultants and risk managers that operate throughout Australia and New Zealand to help designers meet their work health and safety legal duties in relation to safe design.

We understand that good design is important and believe that safe design can be achieved without compromising the design intent. Our clients include architects, building designers, developers, design and construct companies, principal contractors, engineers and local government.

Need more info, contact us.

Safe Design Workshops - CHAIR process

Safe Design Workshops

Safe Design in Practice: Workshops

Safe Design Workshops

Designers can identify hazards to eliminate or minimise risk in design, construction and use of a structure by consulting with other duty holders through formal Safe Design Workshops.

Brainstorming safe designAn early workshop – during the design phase – can involve a brainstorming process where key stakeholders, led by a facilitator, consider potential hazards and evaluate the design.

Subsequent workshops can encourage stakeholders to participate and consult on detailed design issues relating to the construction, maintenance, use for purpose or demolition of the structure being designed.

 

Safety in Design Tool

WorkCover NSW (now known as SafeWork NSW) developed a safety in design tool known as the Construction Hazard Assessment Implication Review Process (CHAIR Process) which uses guidewords as a prompt to promote discussion.

The CHAIR process recommends the use of a facilitator to help guide the process to ensure that there are not any issues that may have been overlooked.

It’s recommended that a diverse range of stakeholders and a systematic methodology is used to significantly reduce the chance of overlooking a major problem.

Who should participate in a Safe Design Workshop?

The hazard categories or guidewords found in the CHAIR Process tool may be useful in assisting the designer or facilitator to guide discussions to identify potential hazards. People that can participate in safe design workshops include:

  • the designer
  • the client
  • project manager
  • design manager
  • engineers
  • maintenance manager
  • principal contractor
  • workers’ representative
  • employer at the workplace or operator
  • plant designers
  • consultant that have an influence on safety decisions (e.g. childcare consultant, acoustic consultant, BCA consultant, fire services consultant)
  • safe design consultant

 

Consultation and Cooperation in Safe Design

Consideration of potential hazards should also be identified and solutions proposed to improve the safety of the structure for when it is used as a workplace. Particularly in relation to:

  • demolition of existing structures;
  • civil and ground works including site layout;
  • construction of structure;
  • use for the purpose for which the structure is designed;
  • maintenance, cleaning and repair of the structure; and
  • demolition at end of life.

Benefits of a Safe Design Workshop Facilitator

The Safe Design Workshop Facilitator should be a person that is sufficiently removed from the design process so that they don’t take any suggestions as criticism or feel the need to defend the design concept.

The designer or facilitator should follow a systematic approach in identifying and discussing potential hazards relating to the design. It’s important to document the discussions and outcomes, including items that require further action so that there is a structured approach to the Workshop.

The Safe Design Workshop may be used to help populate the designer’s risk register which forms part of the safety report.

For further information on safe design workshops refer to the Construction Hazard Assessment Implication Review (CHAIR) Safety in Design Tool, WorkCover NSW.

Talk to us about a Safe Design Workshop

Duties of designers under safe design legislationSafe Design Australia can facilitate workshops for your safe design projects. We’ve developed an effective process for workshops and have conducted workshops from small projects to skyscrapers and complex facilities. We can also facilitate workshops using the CHAIR Process.

If you would like to run your own workshops, we can help you with the tools and training to do this in our Procedures, Templates and Training package.

 

Need more info, contact us.

Fire Safety for Childcare Centres

Fire safety for childcare centres in highrise buildings

Fire safety considerations for multi-storey childcare facilities

 

Fire safety for childcare centres in highrise buildings.

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) raised an important topic recently around the changing use of highrise buildings for facilities other than office or residential spaces, and managing fire safety.

With the ever-increasing need to provide centralised and convenient services to a changing and dynamic workforce, accommodating working parents, more and more childcare centres are being built in multi-storey and highrise spaces in CBDs.

This brings its own unique concerns and considerations when it comes to managing fire safety. How do you evacuate children and infants with limited mobility, safety and swiftly in the event of fire? Fire stairs are not designed for children, handrails out of reach, multiple steps, two-way traffic, infants who need to be carried, limited carers to name a few.

The ABCB recognises that amendments to the National Construction Code may be one part of the solution, but recognises that other options also need to be considered.

What options does the ABCB offer?

The ABCB suggests a multi-faceted approach. “Options include:

  • sprinklers to protect in place;
  • fire rated safe havens adjoining the stairs to bring the children into and to hold until it is safe to evacuate;
  • a dedicated stair where possible (or in the case of a rooftop podium, one stair that does not serve floors above the childcare);
  • foldable cots to put children into at the external safe area (the safe holding of children in appropriate assembly areas needs to be part of the evacuation strategy);
  • carry vests to bring babies down the stairs;
  • stair re-entry to allow childcare workers back into the building;
  • low level handrails in the stairs; and
  • even improved stair cleaning regimes so that children do not hold up evacuations to stop and look at their dirty hands;
  • the building’s automatic evacuation sequencing may need to be amended to consider fire location, such that the childcare may be evacuated first where it’s the fire floor or if the fire floor is below them, but evacuated last for a fire in floors above.”

Read the full ABCB Article here.

Safe design for childcare centres

Our Case Study article identifies several unique requirements and safe design considerations that Childcare centres in multi-storey buildings need, particularly where the childcare facility is often ‘retro-fit’ into a pre-existing structure. It requires a range of design considerations including safety of play areas and outdoor facilities, visibility and security requirements, parking and traffic management, as well as fire safety.

The changing use of existing structures is a key aspect of safe design and opens up a bevy of design constraints and considerations. Lots of food for thought here.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAFE DESIGN LEGISLATION AND OBLIGATIONS

If you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenience ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles.

Need more info, contact us.

Not Boring Safe Design Course

Safe Design Online Course for designers

Safe design doesn’t have to be boring!

The ‘Not boring safe design course’.

 

Safe design can prevent injury, improve productivity and usability, reduce costs, and help manage production and operations of your design projects.

But most importantly, it incorporates innovative, best practice design principles.

As building designers, safe design also helps you meet your obligations under Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation. Why? Because you have a legal duty to do so.

No one gets excited about safety…especially not safe design…

Let’s be honest — no-one gets excited about safety. There’s certainly very little enthusiasm for Safe Design. But… What if it wasn’t boring?

That’s why we developed a flexible, practical and convenient online Safe Design Course (a NOT boring one), aimed at helping you understand and meet your obligations under WHS legislation and apply best practice safe design.

It’s self-paced and gives you the latest information, advice and tools relating to safe design legislation and best practices in Australia, New Zealand and around the world.

This short course includes practical application of WHS legislation by designers, and you may be eligible for CPD points with your industry association.

The course is specifically focussed on Safety in Design (SiD) for design professionals. And, you can complete the program in one-sitting, or save your progress and return to continue at a later time.

Designed by international safe design expert and HSW professional, John Daly, the ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course provides the latest information, advice and tools relating to safe design practices in Australia, New Zealand and around the world.

Who is this course suitable for?

The SiD online course (that’s the not-boring-one), is suitable for all professionals involved in the design, development and construction of structures:

  • Building Designers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Developers
  • Design and Construction companies
  • Principal Contractors and Project Managers

What does this Safety in Design course cover?

The online, self-paced short course covers all aspects of Safe Design including:

  • An introduction to Safe Design
  • Principles of Safe Design – Prevention, People, Knowledge
  • Getting started with Safe Design
  • Risk Assessment and Risk Management
  • Safe Design in Action – Practical applications for your projects
  • Legal responsibilities and WHS legislation

Continuing Professional Development

On completion you’ll receive a ‘Certificate of Completion’ – with the number of CPD hours of training and serves as documentary proof of completion. Please contact your respective Association to check their individual CPD requirements.

The ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course’ has been endorsed by the Safety Institute of Australia for Continuing Professional Development.

 

ENSURE YOU’RE MEETING YOUR DUTIES AS A DESIGNER

If you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenience ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles.

Need more info, contact us.

Safe design - Legal overview

Safe Design – A Legal Overview

Safe Design – A Legal Overview*

This article on ‘Safe Design – A Legal Overview’ is an excerpt of content from Safe Design Australia’s ebook “Safe Design in Practice, for designers of structures.’

 

It’s important to remember that the purpose of the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) is about encouraging a collaborative approach to risk management and involvement of all stakeholders to promote a safer outcome for workers during the lifecycle of the structure as a workplace. More than one person or entity can have a duty in relation to the same matter. Prevention of incidents is the preferred outcome.

Health and safety duties under the WHS Act

Under the WHS Act, the ‘health and safety duties’ (refer sections 19-29) that would most likely apply to designers are contained in:

  • Section 19 – the primary duty of care – imposed on all persons conducting a business or undertaking; and
  • Section 22 – duties of designers.

A related duty to that imposed on designers is contained in Section 26 – duties of persons who commission structures (the client).

There are also further health and safety duties that may be relevant to designers and clients in relation to structures including duties of PCBUs who manufacture (s23), import (s24), or supply (s25) structures or those who install or commission structures (s26).

Additionally, there are health and safety duties on individuals connected with a designer, including officers (s27), workers (s28) and other persons at a workplace (s29).

Other duties and provisions of the WHS Act

There are various other provisions of the WHY Act, including duties that are relevant to PCBUs, including designers.

For example:

  • Sections 35-38 state when a duty holder must notify the relevant regulatory body in their state of a work health and safety incident.
  • Sections 40-45 relate to authorisations for particular workplaces, plant or substances and prescribed qualifications or experience.
  • Sections 46-49 provide for consultation by a duty holder with others, including workers and other duty holders.

WHS Regulation

The WHS Regulation is made under the WHS Act. The Regulation relates to a range of matters and generally provides more specific guidance and/or obligations than contained in the WHS Act. However, it’s important to note that an obligation imposed by the WHS Regulation in relation to health and safety does not limit or affect any duty the person has under the WHS Act, or unless expressly stated, any other provision of the WHS Regulation (reg 11). In most instances, the failure to compliy with a WHS Regulation results in a significantly lesser penalty than a failure to comply with a provision under the WHS Act.

Potential legal consequences of breach of the WHS Act for designers

The potential legal consequences for a breach of the WHY legislation are varied, but the main options available consist of:

  • A monetary penalty;
  • Imprisonment (individuals only);
  • An improvement notice;
  • A prohibition notice;
  • A non-disturbance notice;
  • Enforceable undertakings;
  • Adverse publicity orders
  • Orders for restoration;
  • Work health and safety project orders;
  • Training orders;
  • Injunctions; and/or
  • A civil penalty.

Other legal claims that could be made as a result of a health and safety incidence include:

  • A worker’s compensation claim;
  • A claim under anti-discrimination legislation; or
  • A claim under industrial law (e.g. unfair dismissal, unlawful termination, general protections).

These types of claims are more likely to be made by an employee or contractor against an employer or principal (including by an employee or contractor of a designer) rather than a third party against a designer.

More than one consequence

It’s also possible that if an incident occurs, a designer may face more than one legal consequence. E.g. where both a criminal prosecution and civil law claim could be pursued.

 

ENSURE YOU’RE MEETING YOUR DUTIES AS A DESIGNER

Want to find out more about your Safe Design obligations under legislation? Download our FREE EBOOK.

Or if you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenience ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles and endorsed by the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA).

Need more info, contact us.

* The information in this article is an excerpt of content from pages 24-27 of Safe Design Australia’s ebook “Safe Design in Practice, for designers of structures” and was provided by Michelle Cooper, Director, People+Culture Strategies (PCS).
Safe Design Legislation Definitions

Safe Design Legislation – Some Definitions

Safe Design Legislation – Some Definitions

The following are definitions of key terms and aspects from Australia’s Safe Design Legislation, explaining the various parties and contributors as well as key elements in the WHS Act and legislation. Here we explain:

  • Design and Designer
  • Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)
  • Principal Contractor
  • Reasonably Practicable
  • Recognised Standards, and
  • Structure

Design and Designer

Under the WHS Act, ‘design’ in relation to plant, a substance or a structure includes:

  • design of part of the plant, substance or structure; and
  • redesign or modify a design.^

The Code of Practice: Safe Design of Structures defines a designer as a person conducting a business or undertaking whose profession involves them in, “preparing sketches, plans or drawings for a structure, including variations to a structure and making decisions for incorporation into a design that may affect the health or safety of persons who construct use or carry out other activities in relation to that structure.” *

Designers can include:

  • architects,
  • building designers,
  • landscape designers,
  • interior designers,
  • builders,
  • town planners,
  • engineers that design part of the structure (e.g. mechanical, structural, civil, electric, hydraulic),
  • services and plant designers and persons specifying how alteration or demolition work is carried out,
  • If a principal contractor or other person changes a design, they then take on the role of designer.

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is a term that is used throughout the WHS Act and Regulation in relation to the design of structures. A PCBU is a person who conducts a business or undertaking alone or with others that can operate for profit or not-for-profit.+ These include PCBUs:

  • who commission construction work (‘the client’),
  • PCBUs that commission plant or structures (‘the client’), and
  • PCBUs that design structures (‘the designer’).
  • The principal contractor is also a PCBU.

The definition of a PCBU focuses on the work arrangements and the relationships to carry out the work. PCBU’s can be:

  • A corporation,
  • An association,
  • A partnership, or
  • Sole trader.

Employers or volunteer organisations which employ any person to carry out work is considered a PCBU. Householders where there is an employment relationship between the householder and the worker are also considered a PCBU.

PCBUs can also include:

  • A person commissioning a design for a workplace, or
  • A person commissioning a structure for residential purposes, who is an owner builder, investor, developer, or is working from home or employing workers at home.

The Code of Practice: Construction Work says that a “person commissioning the design is not a PCBU if they are a home buyer, owner or occupier commissioning work on their home; or an individual undertaking maintenance, refurbishment or renovations of their own home or helping a friend”.

Regardless of whether a client is considered a PCBU or otherwise, the designers’ duties in relation to safe design under section 22 of the WHS Act still apply. This includes designers providing information to their clients and anyone issued with the design on any conditions necessary to ensure that the structure is designed to be without risk to health and safety when it is used as a workplace.

Designers conducting design businesses are also considered PCBUs and as such have duties in relation to the safety of their own workers when they are working for them either in or out of the office or on site.

Principal Contractor

A principal contractor is required for a construction project where the value of the construction work is $250,000 or more. The principal contractor is a person conducting a business or undertaking that:

  • commissions the construction project (the client); or
  • is engaged by the client to be the principal contractor and is authorised to have management or control of the workplace #

Reasonably practicable

The designer must ensure, so far as is ‘reasonably practicable’, that the structure is designed to be without risk to the health and safety of persons who manufacture or construct any component of the structure, who use the structure for the purpose for which it is designed or are involved in the maintenance or disposal of that structure.

The term ‘reasonably practicable’ is also used in relation to consultation with other duty holders and between designers and clients on how risks to health and safety during construction can be eliminated or minimised.

‘Reasonably practicable’ means that which is, or was at a particular time, reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters including:

  1. The likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring;
  2. The degree of harm that might result from the hazard or the risk;
  3. What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk (as a professional in the design field);
  4. The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and
  5. After assessing the extent of the risk and the availability of ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.~

Recognised standards

‘Recognised standards’ include legislation, WHS codes of practice, Australian standards, building laws, the National Construction Code of Australia (NCCA) and industry guidance materials.

It is important to be aware of the currency and applicability of any standards and to assess the efficacy of the standard and research current injury data to determine whether a recognised standard is adequate to address the identified hazard. In some cases, designers may need to go beyond the requirements of a standard. E.g. injury data shows that standard balustrade heights on highrise buildings are often inadequate to address the risk of falls.

Structure

The WHS Act defines structure to mean “anything that is constructed, whether fixed or moveable, temporary or permanent, and includes:
a. buildings, masts, towers, framework, pipelines, transport infrastructure and underground works (shafts or tunnels);
b. any component of a structure; and
c. part of a structure”.^^

Examples also include all types of buildings, pipe work, tunnels, landscape elements, swimming pools, paths and roadways.

 

GET IN TOUCH

Want to find out more about your Safe Design obligations under legislation? Download our FREE EBOOK.

Or if you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenient ‘Safe Design Online Short Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles and endorsed by the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA).

Need more info, contact us.

^ Safe Work Australia. (2011). Model Work Health and Safety Bill. Canberra: Safe Work Australia, p.4
* Safe Work Australia. (2012). Code of practice: Safe design of structures. Canberra: Safe Work Australia, p.5.
+ WorkCover NSW. (2011). Fact Sheet – PCBUs, Workers and Officers. Sydney: NSW Government.
# Safe Work Australia. (2012). Code of practice: Safe design of structures. Canberra: Safe Work Australia, p.5.
~ Safe Work Australia. (2011). Interpretive Guideline – model Work Health and Safety Act – the meaning of ‘Reasonably Practicable’. Canberra: Safe Work Australia.
^^ Safe Work Australia. (2011). Model Work Health and Safety Bill. Canberra: Safe Work Australia, p.7.
Safety in Design for Residential buildings

Case Study: Safety in Design for Residential Structures

Case Study: Safety in Design for Residential Structures

Safety in Design for Residential structures

This case study for safety in design for residential structures is a compilation of design planning and structure issues from several different residential building and renovation projects.

The designer was commissioned to renovate a coastal house, including the addition of a second storey, an upper storey balcony, an entry void and stair, and some internal upgrades.

Site factors considered were the presence of overhead power lines and underground gas, the instability of the slope (geotechnical report required), and the potential for acid sulphate soils (acid sulphate soils study required).
The designer identified the potential presence of asbestos, lead based paints and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) in the existing structure, and organised a competent person to confirm the location of these hazardous substances. The designer and client discussed the asbestos and decided that it should all be removed as part of the new works.

As the additions included a new upper storey on top of the existing structure, the designer consulted with a structural engineer to verify the capacity of the structure to take the load of the new level and any additional support that would be required to ensure the stability of the structure. As the site was in a coastal area, the engineer investigated the existing structure to ensure that prior damage from corrosion would not affect the integrity of the structure.

During the documentation stage, the spacing of the roof trusses for the upper level was revised to 600mm centres with battens at 450mm centres to reduce the risk of falls during construction. The roof pitch was kept below the critical angle of 26 degrees at 22 degrees (see Code of Practice: Preventing Falls in Housing Construction) to improve worker safety.

To reduce exposure of the construction workers to hazardous substances, the designer specified paints and adhesives that had no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and no emissions materials for internal joinery.

New materials were selected for durability and to reduce the need to maintain the building at heights including the use of stainless steel roof sheeting and fixings. Air conditioning units and fans were selected that were more durable for the environment. Air conditioning units were located to the rear of the residence for protection from salt spray and at ground level for easy maintenance. To increase durability and reduce the need for ongoing maintenance, the designer selected a tiled concrete slab for the rear veranda, durable composite decking made from recycled plastic for the entry deck, and stainless steel balustrading. To eliminate confined spaces, rainwater tanks were selected that did not have to be entered to be maintained.

High level windows were originally proposed over the staircase and were considered a potential hazard for maintenance. These windows were relocated over a hallway where they could be accessed for cleaning. Louvres were specified on the upper storey to allow cleaning from the inside. Wall mounted LED lighting in the void area was proposed to reduce the risk of work at height for lighting maintenance.

The designer eliminated or minimised risks—so far as was reasonably practicable—and communicated residual risks to others further down the lifecycle including the principal contractor, maintenance contractors and demolition contractor in the safety report. The designer provided the safety report to the client, who was advised to provide this to the principal contractor. This report was also issued by the designer with tender documentation and submitted with the plans to the local council.

Safe Design Workshop with project stakeholders

Safe Design Australia acted as the safe design consultant for these residential projects, providing support through consultation and workshops. Safe design workshops are important, particularly for more complex projects as they can assist the designer in identifying hazards and consulting with other duty holders on ways to eliminate or minimise risks.

Participants can include the designer, the client (sometimes the building owner), engineers, consultants, principal contractor, maintenance manager and other consultants.

Contact us to find out more

To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.

 

Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia