Healthy and safe by design


healthy and safe by design banner

Hazards are eliminated or minimised by design

What is healthy and safe by design?

Good design is the most effective and durable means of creating a healthy and safe working environment because it can eliminate the hazards and risks before they enter the workplace.

Strategic outcomes

National activities will support the following outcomes:

  • Structures, plant and substances are designed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks before they are introduced into the workplace.
  • Work, work processes and systems of work are designed and managed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks.

The Principles of Good Work Design

Safe Work Australia has developed ten key principles and a supporting handbook Principles of Good Work Design to help workplaces design healthy and safe work.

The ten Principles of Good Work Design cover:

  • Why good work design is important
  • What should be considered in good work design, and
  • How good work is designed
diagram of principles good design

The principles can be applied to the design of structures, plant and substances and also to work, work processes and systems in general.

The handbook Principles of Good Work Design has been developed to support application of the principles.

Healthy and safe by design case studies

Design of structures, plant and substances

The most common causes of worker deaths and traumatic injuries continue to be vehicle collisions, being hit by moving or falling objects and falls from heights. The risks from these can be minimised by the way structures, plant and equipment are designed and used.

In 2004, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council published a report which considered work-related deaths that occurred in Australia between 1997 and 2002. Seventy-seven work-related deaths (37 per cent) of these were definitely or probably involving design-related issues.

Design of work, work processes and systems

Good work design will help ensure workplace hazards and risks are eliminated or minimised so all workers remain healthy and safe at work. This can involve for example the design of work, workstations, operational procedures, computer systems or manufacturing processes.

Examples of national activities

The design of plant and structures has historically been a key focus for national activities.

The current Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice will help people such as architects, building designers and engineers who design workplace structures.

Other relevant Codes of Practice which discuss the importance of design include: Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work and Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces.

A user-centred safe design approach

Safe Work Australia co-sponsored a chapter of the Core Body of Knowledge for the Generalist OHS Professional (Body of Knowledge) which was developed to give work health and safety professionals a working knowledge of ergonomic, human factors and safe design principles. It will show how they can use user-centred control and safe design to design work and workplaces and control hazards.

Sizing up Australia—the next step

Designers need to consider the work health and safety implications of their designs. However, much of the key data about the population for whom they are designing is not available. Designers need anthropometric data about the modern working population – measurements of the average and range of shapes and sizes of modern Australian workers. Designers also need tools so they can use this information to build work spaces, equipment and tools that workers can use safely.

View the report Sizing up Australia—the next step

Key resources and links


Questions should be emailed to

Quick links and Initiatives


Information Publication Scheme FOI Disclosure Log

Bottom navigation