TRAll those involved in the design of structures such as architects, engineers and building designers are now required to practice “safe design” under the new work health and safety laws.

The concept of “safe design” requires a designer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable that the plan, substance or structure is designed to be without risks to the health and safety of persons.

Designers will have a duty to provide a safety report and risk assessment to their clients for all design projects including residential housing.

A study in 2007 estimated that up to two thirds of the deaths in the construction industry was linked to poor design and planning.

The purpose of the new laws is to minimise the number of deaths and injuries associated with construction.

In this regard the designer must consider the building or structure during the construction phase, maintenance and end of life demolition.

Examples of safe design include:

  • Specifying non toxic paints
  • Placing permanent anchor points on the roof for maintenance
  • Ensuring the risk from overhead power lines is shown on plans

It is likely that designer’s costs will increase however if the aim of eliminating deaths and injuries is achieved, the cost will be justified.

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