Safety in Design: It’s a legal requirement

Safety in Design: It’s a legal requirement

3.02.2015 - Posted by Mark Hausfeld
Having worked on a diverse range of engineering design projects throughout Queensland, my experience is that the focus is primarily always on cost, quality and time. A critical component that is often overlooked is Safety in Design.

Construction staging of diversion works incorporating Safety in Design outcomes for future maintenance and establishment.

On a recent diversion and levee design in Queensland, we undertook the certified design and construction scope of the project. Embankment grades are usually designed (from an engineering perspective) in consideration of requirements such as stability and the establishment of vegetation. In consultation with the client and construction contractor throughout the design process, we determined several safety risks associated with the embankment slopes. These included access and egress requirements for staff undertaking future ongoing creek monitoring, and staff working on slopes during construction. The risks were reduced by designing lower grade embankments and documenting this process. This was only one of many risks identified in a comprehensive Safety in Design risk assessment throughout all phases of the project.

So, why is Safety in Design so important?

The ethical reason is to ensure our designs eliminate all safety risks, as much as possible, for the design life of the project. However, what is not as commonly understood is that Safety in Design is a legal requirement under the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Under the Act, designers are required to show at all levels of design that Safety in Design has been undertaken, and that risks have been eliminated or reduced as much is 'reasonably practicable'. This is fundamentally important from very early on in the design process, where there is more chance to design out hazards or incorporate compatible risk control measures.

In understanding the potential risks and hazards associated with Safety in Design, the Engineer is responsible for involving all parties in the design process, as their actions may affect the health and safety of others. This includes input from other design consultants or construction contractors for example, even if there is no contractual obligation between them.

If you would like more information on our design work or Safety in Design, you can contact me at [email protected]