The new Work Health and Safety laws (WHS) introduce a concept of "Safe Design" that mandates requirements for architects, engineers, building designers or anyone involved in the design of a building or structure.
Such requirements state that designers must ensure that a plan, substance or structure is specifically designed to be without risks to the health and safety of persons. Designers have a duty to provide a safety report and risk assessment for all design projects.
Although this may create extra work, the measures are implemented to reduce death and injury in the workplace, as up to two thirds of deaths in the construction industry can be directly attributed to poor design and planning.
Only minor modifications are needed to achieve this aim in the long term, for example, safe design could:
- Specify non-toxic paints and finishes;
- Include permanent anchor points on ceilings, walls and roofs for maintenance; and
- Identify overhead and hidden power on the plans and in the safe design report.
Principals will now bear a greater responsibility to provide designers with WHS information specific to the site and to consult other persons involved in the project, and to give site specific safety information to the principal contractor or builder.