The benefits of safe design include:    

  • stopping people getting sick or hurt 

  • making products, systems and facilities more usable 

  • improving productivity 

  • saving costs. 

Using products with safe design helps businesses: 

  • know and manage how much something will cost over its lifecycle 

  • meet their duties under WHS laws

Who’s involved with safe design? 

As a PCBU , you have work health and safety (WHS) duties with safe design if you manage, control or change a product’s design at any stage, including: 

  • architects, industrial designers and drafters 

  • engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, builders, developers, project managers and WHS professionals 

  • building service and fixed plant designers – for example, ventilation and electrical systems 

  • buyers who decide products and materials – for example, specifying masonry blocks, therefore deciding the weights bricklayers will handle. 

Practicing safe design 

To practice safe design, ensure a product is safe from the start. That involves identifying, assessing and controlling hazards at concept stage. 

It’s also important to apply good work design from the start. Think about how you’ll be safe in the work environment, operations, computer systems and building processes. 

Model for safe design 

Safe design happens throughout the entire process: 

  • Pre-design – identify the problem/need and risk context 

  • Concept development – gather information and find hazards 

  • Design options – generate multiple solutions and analyse and evaluate risks 

  • Design synthesis – select a solution and eliminate and control risks 

  • Design completion – implement and test. 

Throughout the design process: 

  • monitor and review the information 

  • record and convey hazards and risks, and how you’re controlling them. 

Principles of safe design 

There are 5 principles of safe design: 

  1. Persons with control – people who make decisions that affect the design of products, facilities or processes promote health and safety at the source. 

  1. Product lifecycle – safe design applies to every stage in the lifecycle, from concept to disposal, eliminating hazards and managing risks as early as possible. 

  1. Systematic risk management – identify hazards, assess and control risks to achieve safe design. 

  1. Safe design knowledge and capability – people who control design are or become knowledgeable and capable. 

  1. Information transfer – communicate and document design and risk control information amongst everyone involved in the product’s lifecycle. 

Product lifecycle 

Safe design means thinking about hazards and risks across the product lifecycle. The product lifecycle includes when it’s: 

  • constructed or manufactured 

  • imported, supplied or installed 

  • commissioned, used or operated 

  • maintained, repaired, cleaned, and/or changed 

  • de-commissioned, demolished and/or dismantled 

  • disposed of or recycled. 

For safe design, you must understand the product’s lifecycle, including users’ needs and how and where they might use it. 

Safe design saves money 

Having safe plant and equipment could save between 5% and 10% of your costs through reducing: 

  • hazardous material inventories 

  • the need for personal protective equipment 

  • costs of testing and upkeep. 

Unsafe design can cost a lot. For example, through: 

  • fitting safety equipment later 

  • workers’ compensation and insurance levies 

  • environmental clean-up 

  • negligence claims. 

These costs can then impact the next people who buy and use the product.