Unsafe design was responsible for 188 work-related fatalities from 2006 to 2011, says Safe Work Australia. This means risks can be eliminated if hazards are identified early in the design process. If better care can be taken at the design stage, achieving a zero fatality rate is a distinct possibility – a safety goal that will ultimately benefit everyone.

Planning is a key factor in ensuring the safety of all who work on or around your structures. Consult with your client, gather information and identify hazards so that you can take them into consideration prior to start of work.

Here are some points for your checklist:

  • Is there a better way to design the structure that will reduce the risk?
  • Look at the processes that are being performed and integrate ergonomic principles, taking into account the job and task characteristics.
  • What are your legal obligations with respect to regulatory Acts, Codes and Standards?

Safe Work Australia's five principles of safe design

Plant and equipment

Integration of plant and equipment, particularly items such as air conditioners, is a minor but important part of the building’s design process. By considering these aspects in the initial design process, risks can be minimised, and even eliminated.

What you will need to consider:

  • The lifecycle of the plant and equipment;
  • What will be the maintenance regime and how often will it be performed;
  • Possible alternatives for the positioning of, and access to plant and equipment.

Responsibility and legal obligations

Australian WHS laws impose duties on a range of agencies to ensure health and safety – these also include designers of plant, buildings and structures. One can no longer leave the issue of height safety to others. According to the National Occupational Health & Safety Commission (The role of design issues in work-related injuries in Australia 1997-2002), design contributes to at least 30% of work-related serious non-fatal injuries.

Read this article to further understand the impact of not specifying or taking ownership for the access and fall protection on your designs.

Lighting maintenance

Lighting on many structures may be located in extremely hazardous areas and the simple job of changing a light fitting can become a dangerous, expensive and labour intensive task. Designing effective fall arrest systems such as rigid rails can ensure safety and reduce the hassle in maintenance.

Facade access and window cleaning

General maintenance of windows and facades can prove very expensive if suitable rope access equipment is not installed to provide workers with easy and safe access. In the absence of these types of systems, companies will be forced to use scissor lifts, organise road closures, initiate TMP (Traffic Management Plans) and labour hire – causing disruption and increasing expense.

Protecting your client

By providing roof access and fall protection equipment, your client can meet all their WHS obligations. Moreover, it also eliminates any need for extra works after the building has been completed.

Build and maintain goodwill with your clients as it is integral to your business. The specification and design of height safety systems can make an impact when it comes to maintaining strong relationships and adding value.

Your clients expect professional designs that take their existing and future needs into consideration. Fall protection is a necessary element of design and if factored into the initial design stages may save them much money, time, inconvenience and legal hassles later on.

Free height safety design by Sayfa Group

Safety in design contributes significantly to lowering working at height fatalities. However, the requirements for staying up to date and compliant can be overwhelming.

Consult with Sayfa's expert design team for free height safety design solutions.