Good work design

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you have a duty to consider good work design in a workplace. This page will assist you in understanding your duties under the model work health and safety laws, and direct you to supporting documentation.

Good work design can transform the workplace to benefit the business, workers, clients and others in the supply chain. It can: 

  • protect workers from harm to their health and safety  

  • improve worker health and wellbeing 

  • improve job satisfaction and performance 

  • improve business success through higher worker productivity and innovation. 

Good work design can eliminate and minimise hazards and risks at the source.   

Good work design helps you meet WHS duties 

Good work design principles help you meet your obligations under model work health and safety (WHS) laws .  

Everyone in the workplace has WHS duties under the model WHS Act. You have specific duties if you are: 

  • a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) 

  • a designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier and installer of plant, substances or structures 

  • an officer. 

For further information see the Principles of Good Work Design – A work health and safety handbook 

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  

  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 

  • consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

What to consider for good work design 

There are 4 areas PCBUs should consider for good work design. 

  1. The work, including: 

  • how to perform it, including the physical, mental and emotional demands of the tasks and activities   

  • the task duration, frequency, and complexity 

  • the context and systems of work.  

  1. Your workers’ needs, preferences and capacities. 

  1. The physical environment, including: 

  • the workplace itself 

  • plant, equipment, materials and substances 

  • vehicles, buildings and structures.  

  1. The systems and processes involved in the work, including: 

  • information technology  

  • business management  

  • products and services 

  • supply chains 

  • human interaction, including customers and clients. 

10 principles of good work design 

There are 10 principles supporting health and safety at work and business productivity. They’re relevant for all Australian workplaces. 

Why good work design is important 

  1. Good work design enhances health and wellbeing. 

  1. Good work design enhances business success and productivity. 

  1. Good work design gives the highest level of protection. 

What to consider in good work design 

  1. Good work design considers the business’s needs, context and work environment. 

  1. Good work design addresses physical, biomechanical, cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of work, together with the needs and capabilities of the people involved. 

  1. Good work design is applied along the supply chain and across the operational lifestyle. 

How to design good work 

  1. Actively involve the people who do the work, including those in the supply chain and networks. 

  1. Engage decision makers and leaders. 

  1. Identify hazards, assess and control risks, and seek continuous improvement. 

  1. Learn from experts, evidence and experience. 

Apply principles in planning stages 

Good work design happens in the early planning phases, not when something goes wrong. 

Early planning allows PCBU’s to better: 

  • eliminate or minimise hazards and risks 

  • improve workflow and efficiency. 

Revisit work design when there are any changes in your workplace or when assessing hazards and risks. 

As a PCBU, you must consider your jurisdiction’s WHS requirements when applying good work design principles. 

Consult with workers and experts 

Workers will be familiar with their work processes and often have suggestions for problem solving.  

The model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination has more information. 

As a PCBU, you may need experts’ advice on different parts of work design. These professionals may include: 

  • engineers 

  • architects 

  • ergonomists 

  • information and computer technology professionals 

  • occupational hygienists 

  • organisational psychologists 

  • human resource professionals 

  • occupational therapists  

  • physiotherapists.