Safe design

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you have a duty to consider safe 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. 

Safe design means the integration of control measures early in the design process to eliminate or, if this is not reasonable practicable, minimise risks to health and safety throughout the lifecycle of the product being designed. 

Buildings, structures, machinery and equipment, tools and vehicles all need safe design to protect the people who use them from getting sick or injured. 

Safe design starts at the concept phase, when a PCBU is deciding and identifying:   

  • design and intended purpose 

  • materials 

  • how someone will build, maintain, operate, demolish, dismantle or dispose of it 

  • legislation, codes of practice and standards it’ll need to comply with. 

WHS duties 

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. 

The model WHS Regulations outline duties that apply to safe design. This includes specific requirements for the design of plant and a person who commissions construction work. For further information see:  

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.