The earlier hazards can be identified in the design process, the more risks can be eliminated.
According to Safe Work Australia, 188 work-related fatalities from 2006 to 2011 were caused by unsafe design.
Quite a chilling statistic, but the good news is if more care can be taken at the design stage, the closer we may be towards a zero fatality rate which will ultimately benefit everyone.
Before you draw that first line
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 take these into consideration beforehand.
- Find alternatives - 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.
- Legal obligations - what regulatory Acts, Codes and Standards need to be adhered to?
Safe Work Australia's five principles of safe design
Further information on Safe Design can be found at Safe Work Australia's website.
Plant and equipment
The integration of plant and equipment, particularly things like air conditioners, can be thought of as a minor factor in design. However, by considering it in the initial design process risks can be minimised, and in some cases completely removed. Things to take into account are:
- The life cycle 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. ie. can the equipment be placed on the ground, rather than on a roof?
Responsibility & legal obligations
Australian WHS laws impose duties on a range of parties to ensure health and safety and this also includes designers of plant, buildings and structures.
Design contributes to at least 30% of work-related serious non-fatal injuries.*
It is no longer acceptable to leave the design of height safety to others. Assuming that a generic clause such as "Provide compliant roof safety system to Australian Standards" does not negate your liability. Our article "Don't assume you're covered - this clause may not protect you" goes into further detail of the impact of not specifying or taking ownership for the access and fall protection on your designs.
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? That depends on where it is located.
On many structures, lighting may be located in extremely hazardous areas and the simple job of changing a globe can become a dangerous, expensive and labour intensive task. Designing effective fall arrest systems such as rigid rails can ensure safety and make the task of maintenance much less onerous.
Facade access and window cleaning
Another area that also requires consideration is general maintenance such as window and facade cleaning.
This can prove very expensive if suitable rope access equipment is not installed to provide workers with easy and safe access. Failure to incorporate these types of systems can mean that companies will be forced to use scissor lifts, organise road closures, TMP (Traffic Management Plans) and labour hire - all very disruptive and costly.
Does your client come first?
The provision of roof access and fall protection equipment can be extremely beneficial to your clients and ensures they are meeting all their WHS obligations and additionally removes the need for extra works after their building has been completed.
If building goodwill is integral to your business, then 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 play. The investment of fall protection is a necessary element to design and if thought of in the initial stages may save them much money, time and inconvenience later on.
FREE height safety design by Sayfa
Safety in design is a major issue and can play an integral part to lowering our working at height fatalities but the requirements of staying up to date to ensure compliance can be overwhelming.