Acton Waterfront Park Project


The Safe Design Australia team recently had the pleasure of working with Aspect Studios’ design team on the ACT’s Acton Waterfront Park project.

This project forms part of the National Capital Plan’s vision for a cultural and entertainment precinct on Canberra’s iconic Lake Burley Griffin waterfront. The design features new open spaces, improved connections with the city centre, better access for water activities and a celebration of the site’s history and national significance.

Check it out HERE.

The initial Safe Design workshop was very successful, reflecting the level of expertise and engagement brought to the table by the consultants and client representatives who attended.

Check out the project and others on Aspect Studios site HERE.

Thanks Aspect Studios, we look forward to working with you again! – Safe Design Australia


Bridge building and safe design

Build a bridge. Get over it.


Bridge building and safe design

Over the past few months, bridge construction and safety has been a hot topic – from the tragedy of the Genoa Bridge collapse, to the opening of the longest sea bridge in the world, bridge design is pushing the bar higher and higher. Here’s a snapshot of the recent articles on safe design of bridges.

World’s longest sea bridge opens

Feat of engineering or bridge of death? Designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, the world’s longest sea bridge opened in October, connecting Hong Kong to the mainland of China.

  • $20 billion project.
  • 55kms in length.
  • 18 deaths during construction.

So is it worth it? Full article: ABC News.

Artificial Intelligence for Bridges

New technologies are being developed to provide 24/7 structural health monitoring (SHM) of large structures including bridges, dams and buildings. These systems are now providing at call information on structural health and alerting owners to maintenance needs or other potential hazards and risks.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is being fitted with 2400 sensors to monitor its structural health – to detect damage caused by traffic, wind, temperature, vibration and extreme events. Relying on advancements in technology is great, but this doesn’t reduce the role that the designer has to play in the design and construction of safe structures.

Full article: Queensland University of Technology News.

Record-breaking bridge spans

UK engineers say they’ve created novel bridge designs that could make 5km long spans possible. The engineers have identified bridge concepts that require “the minimum possible volume of material” to create longer bridge spans.

Can they go too far? Is this a bit of a stretch?

Full article: Create Digital.

The Genoa Bridge Tragedy

On 14 August 2018, a viaduct – a major motorway, constructed in the 1960s in the north of Italy, collapsed, killing 43 people. Cars, trucks and people dropped suddenly, crashing to the ground 150 metres below. Sounds surreal in this day and age. But it did happen.

Read more.



Duties of designers under safe design legislation

Safe Design Australia are a team of work health and safety consultants and risk managers that operate throughout Australia and New Zealand to help designers meet their work health and safety legal duties in relation to safe design.

We understand that good design is important and believe that safe design can be achieved without compromising the design intent. Our clients include architects, building designers, developers, design and construct companies, principal contractors, engineers and local government.

Need more info, contact us.

Fire Safety for Childcare Centres

Fire safety for childcare centres in highrise buildings

Fire safety considerations for multi-storey childcare facilities


Fire safety for childcare centres in highrise buildings.

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) raised an important topic recently around the changing use of highrise buildings for facilities other than office or residential spaces, and managing fire safety.

With the ever-increasing need to provide centralised and convenient services to a changing and dynamic workforce, accommodating working parents, more and more childcare centres are being built in multi-storey and highrise spaces in CBDs.

This brings its own unique concerns and considerations when it comes to managing fire safety. How do you evacuate children and infants with limited mobility, safety and swiftly in the event of fire? Fire stairs are not designed for children, handrails out of reach, multiple steps, two-way traffic, infants who need to be carried, limited carers to name a few.

The ABCB recognises that amendments to the National Construction Code may be one part of the solution, but recognises that other options also need to be considered.

What options does the ABCB offer?

The ABCB suggests a multi-faceted approach. “Options include:

  • sprinklers to protect in place;
  • fire rated safe havens adjoining the stairs to bring the children into and to hold until it is safe to evacuate;
  • a dedicated stair where possible (or in the case of a rooftop podium, one stair that does not serve floors above the childcare);
  • foldable cots to put children into at the external safe area (the safe holding of children in appropriate assembly areas needs to be part of the evacuation strategy);
  • carry vests to bring babies down the stairs;
  • stair re-entry to allow childcare workers back into the building;
  • low level handrails in the stairs; and
  • even improved stair cleaning regimes so that children do not hold up evacuations to stop and look at their dirty hands;
  • the building’s automatic evacuation sequencing may need to be amended to consider fire location, such that the childcare may be evacuated first where it’s the fire floor or if the fire floor is below them, but evacuated last for a fire in floors above.”

Read the full ABCB Article here.

Safe design for childcare centres

Our Case Study article identifies several unique requirements and safe design considerations that Childcare centres in multi-storey buildings need, particularly where the childcare facility is often ‘retro-fit’ into a pre-existing structure. It requires a range of design considerations including safety of play areas and outdoor facilities, visibility and security requirements, parking and traffic management, as well as fire safety.

The changing use of existing structures is a key aspect of safe design and opens up a bevy of design constraints and considerations. Lots of food for thought here.



If you’re a building designer, architect, engineer, or other building design professional, we encourage you to enrol in our flexible and convenience ‘Not Boring Safe Design Course’, designed to assist you understand and practice safe design principles.

Need more info, contact us.

Safety in Design for Residential buildings

Case Study: Safety in Design for Residential Structures

Case Study: Safety in Design for Residential Structures

Safety in Design for Residential structures

This case study for safety in design for residential structures is a compilation of design planning and structure issues from several different residential building and renovation projects.

The designer was commissioned to renovate a coastal house, including the addition of a second storey, an upper storey balcony, an entry void and stair, and some internal upgrades.

Site factors considered were the presence of overhead power lines and underground gas, the instability of the slope (geotechnical report required), and the potential for acid sulphate soils (acid sulphate soils study required).
The designer identified the potential presence of asbestos, lead based paints and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) in the existing structure, and organised a competent person to confirm the location of these hazardous substances. The designer and client discussed the asbestos and decided that it should all be removed as part of the new works.

As the additions included a new upper storey on top of the existing structure, the designer consulted with a structural engineer to verify the capacity of the structure to take the load of the new level and any additional support that would be required to ensure the stability of the structure. As the site was in a coastal area, the engineer investigated the existing structure to ensure that prior damage from corrosion would not affect the integrity of the structure.

During the documentation stage, the spacing of the roof trusses for the upper level was revised to 600mm centres with battens at 450mm centres to reduce the risk of falls during construction. The roof pitch was kept below the critical angle of 26 degrees at 22 degrees (see Code of Practice: Preventing Falls in Housing Construction) to improve worker safety.

To reduce exposure of the construction workers to hazardous substances, the designer specified paints and adhesives that had no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and no emissions materials for internal joinery.

New materials were selected for durability and to reduce the need to maintain the building at heights including the use of stainless steel roof sheeting and fixings. Air conditioning units and fans were selected that were more durable for the environment. Air conditioning units were located to the rear of the residence for protection from salt spray and at ground level for easy maintenance. To increase durability and reduce the need for ongoing maintenance, the designer selected a tiled concrete slab for the rear veranda, durable composite decking made from recycled plastic for the entry deck, and stainless steel balustrading. To eliminate confined spaces, rainwater tanks were selected that did not have to be entered to be maintained.

High level windows were originally proposed over the staircase and were considered a potential hazard for maintenance. These windows were relocated over a hallway where they could be accessed for cleaning. Louvres were specified on the upper storey to allow cleaning from the inside. Wall mounted LED lighting in the void area was proposed to reduce the risk of work at height for lighting maintenance.

The designer eliminated or minimised risks—so far as was reasonably practicable—and communicated residual risks to others further down the lifecycle including the principal contractor, maintenance contractors and demolition contractor in the safety report. The designer provided the safety report to the client, who was advised to provide this to the principal contractor. This report was also issued by the designer with tender documentation and submitted with the plans to the local council.

Safe Design Workshop with project stakeholders

Safe Design Australia acted as the safe design consultant for these residential projects, providing support through consultation and workshops. Safe design workshops are important, particularly for more complex projects as they can assist the designer in identifying hazards and consulting with other duty holders on ways to eliminate or minimise risks.

Participants can include the designer, the client (sometimes the building owner), engineers, consultants, principal contractor, maintenance manager and other consultants.

Contact us to find out more

To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.


Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia

SDA - Safe Maintenance Affinity Water UK Safe Design

Case Study: Affinity Water, United Kingdom

Case Study: Safe Maintenance for Affinity Water, United Kingdom

Innovative office design for safe maintenance

This building was designed for Affinity Water in Hatfield Business Park in the United Kingdom. Safe maintenance was a key component in the design considerations.

The client wanted a statement building that would:

  • reflect their corporate ethos,
  • promote collaborative working, and
  • energise their staff.

The building was designed using an innovative combination of environmental design and safe design. As a result, it has created a positive environment for the employees using the building every day, as well as a safe environment for maintenance workers.

Considering safe maintenance during the design phase

The designer of this building, Scott Brownrigg Architects, considered safe maintenance of the structure by integrating edge protection and platforms into the facade for cleaning of windows. These platforms are accessed by the external fire stairs, so there’s no disruption to the office workers’ daily roles.

A full height statement winter garden was incorporated into the design, with the garden surrounded by glass to to add extra visibility and improve the internal environment for workers. To aid in cleaning, a special scissor lift was developed, enabling workers to access the large areas of glass. At ground level, a path was also incorporated around the perimeter of the building to facilitate safe maintenance using the proposed mobile plant.

Accessibility and safety at height

To allow for safe access to the plant, which was located on the roof of the structure, the designer incorporated an integrated parapet to provide permanent edge protection. This feature has eliminated the need for temporary edge protection and fall protection equipment during maintenance of the roof plant. The parapet was concealed behind the awning so it didn’t affect the visual or sun shading effect of the feature awning around the roof.

Safe Design Workshop with project stakeholders

Safe Design Australia acted as the safe design consultant for this project, providing support in consultation and workshops. Safe design workshops are important, particularly for more complex projects as they can assist the designer in identifying hazards and consulting with other duty holders on ways to eliminate or minimise risks.

Participants can include the designer, the client, engineers, consultants, principal contractor, maintenance manager, employer (or workers representative) at the workplace being designed and other consultants.

Contact us to find out more

To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.


Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia

Architect: Scott Brownrigg

Client: Goodman, UK

Case Study - Safe Design Considerations for Childcare centres

Case Study: Childcare Centre Safe Design Considerations

Case Study: Childcare Centre Safe Design

This case study is a compilation of issues from several different childcare projects. 


Identifying hazards during the design phase

Every project has its own unique considerations, and in this particular project, the design brief required the conversion of an existing structure – a three storey building – into a large multilevel childcare centre.

The existing building had been built in the 1960s and as such had historical construction aspects to consider. The designer undertook a visual inspection and identified asbestos and lead based paints had been used in the original construction. As a result, project managers organised a hazardous materials survey, which confirmed the presence and the location of the hazardous substances.

It was determined that the hazardous materials would be removed during the construction of the childcare centre.

Across the road from the site, was a power generation plant which posed issues around the health effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR). The designer subsequently took this potential health issue into consideration and researched various claddings and glazing which would reduce exposure of EMR to occupants of the new building.

Including outdoor areas into design

There is strong evidence that shows the importance of outdoor play in childcare environments and the client wanted to ensure that this was included as a key component in the design of the childcare centre. The designer incorporated this into the framework of the existing structure and achieved the inclusion of outdoor spaces by creating large balconies on each level. This did, however, create potential significant hazards including the possibility of children moving and climbing on outdoor furniture and falling.

The designer used ‘safe design’ principles to address this hazard, increasing the balustrading above the standard required height to 1.6 metres and also specifying glass balustrading without footholds. Other safe design measures included the specification of soft fall and shading for the outdoor playground equipment and large windows to provide greater visibility from internal staff areas.

Garden beds were located in these outdoor areas, taking into consideration the location of the plants and types of plants, to ensure they were out of reach of children, and most importantly, non-toxic if ingested.

The designer also undertook research into the types of treatments possible for the feature timber balcony posts to eliminate the chance of splinters and ensure materials used were non-toxic to children.

Greater visibility and sightlines for interiors

The reception area was located in a position that provided clear visibility and surveillance of people entering the childcare centre, with access controlled by secure glass doors to prevent unauthorised people from entering the centre. A sign-in area for parents was also considered in the design process.

The layout design included separation and soundproofing of the baby area from the toddler area, clear sightlines from baby nappy change stations and food preparation areas to play areas to allow staff to supervise others while undertaking these tasks.

A central staff control area was provided to allow for supervision of each group.

Additional hazard identification and minimisation

Heat sources such as the hot water system and oven were isolated from children to avoid potential harm. A lockable cleaners’ storeroom was provided to store cleaning chemicals and equipment. The designer specified no volatile organic compounds paints and low emissions joinery and carpets to prevent the potential health effects from the off gassing of these products, particularly for those children with Asthma. This also had the added benefit of providing safer products for construction workers during the construction stage.

Greater accessibility for maintenance and site users

Plant was relocated from the roof to ground level to allow for easy access for maintenance purposes. Some air conditioning units were located on the balcony area, but these were located away from the edges and in a screened area. The openings in these screens were resized during the design process to eliminate the potential hazard for hand and finger entrapment. Windows were openable from the inside to allow for easy cleaning, but were secured to prevent access by children.

The original basement car park design did not incorporate pedestrian paths and research indicated this was a significant hazard in childcare centres. The design was revised to include pathways with wheel stops in front of the car spaces, and one-way traffic to allow for better traffic flow.

Managing potential emergencies

To facilitate the evacuation of babies during a potential fire emergency, fire safety cots were specified and a room provided for their storage in an appropriate location. The babies would be placed in these cots to be evacuated by staff. To prevent children from exiting through the fire safety door, it was programmed to only unlock when the alarm was activated. The designer also consulted with the workers’ WHS representative on the proposed safe lock down procedure for the centre to ensure that areas could be safely secured in the event of a lock down in an emergency situation.


Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia


Contact us to find out more

To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.

Safe design. The benefit of hindsight.

The benefit of hindsight. Changing outcomes for the future.

Safe design. The benefit of hindsight…

In February this year, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit regions of Taiwan. The image of a propped up Marshall Hotel in Huelin did the rounds on social media.

Many thought this image was comical (particularly without background of what happened) and sadly, many people lost their lives that day.

Earthquakes can’t be avoided. Every environment, region or structure, however, has its own unique circumstances or considerations, and regardless of whether it’s manmade or natural, risks can be minimised or in many cases, eliminated.

How could the application of safe design practice changed this outcome?

Consultation and collaboration with specialists to consider Safe Design throughout all phases of the design, construction and usage stages of a structure are important to ensure we continually innovate and improve, while also preventing and minimising injury through the design of safe structures and workplaces.

Emergency workers went to alarming lengths in this instance. And, we don’t have the complete view of the design, development and construction lifecycle for this project. But, do you think the outcome could have been any different in this situation?

Read more: 


Find out more about safe design practice

For more information about the principles of safe design and how safe design can be integrated into your future building design projects, contact us.


Case Study Prince Alfred Park Pool Sydney

Case Study: Prince Alfred Park Pool, Sydney

Case Study: Prince Alfred Park Pool, Sydney

“The overriding principle was to premiate landscape over built form, based on a conviction that in these inner urban areas, green space is sacred.”

Source: 2014 Sydney Design Awards submission.

Based on this concept, a main feature of the design of the Prince Alfred Park Pool complex in Sydney was the landscaped grass roof that sits over the pool building facilities. The safe design of this roof required consideration of safety in relation to potential falls as it could be accessed from street level and also consideration of how this roof would be safely maintained.

Designing for safety without compromising design intent

Potential unauthorised access to the roof was addressed by a 2.4 metre high fence that is set back from the edge so it doesn’t impact on the intended visual effect. This fence is angled back and has no footholds, preventing climbing. The architect incorporated security lighting, CCTV and an alarm back to City of Sydney Security. The landscape designer reduced the need for maintenance by proposing an irrigation system and the specification of native grasses so that no mowing was required. An integrated cable access system was incorporated into the design to enable maintenance of the plants for weeding. In addition, a wide coping provides edge delineation and is illuminated by lighting from the pool deck below.

To ensure safe maintenance of the structure and associated plant, the designer consulted extensively with the plant designers and design engineers. The project incorporated a concrete plant hatch above the plant rooms, fitted with lifting points hidden in the grass mound roof, should the need arise for future replacement of plant with a designated crane operation area. Large skylights and tri-generation chimneys, projecting above the grass mound, are not only safe and functional, but are also a great sculptural element – fitting in with the original design intentions of the architect.

Pivoting outdoor light poles allow maintenance access without the need to work at height.

Designated access ways for emergency access were engineered to take the loads of vehicles that may need to access the site. Research and testing was undertaken to select durable materials and surfaces, and also to ensure that surfaces met slip resistance ratings for its proposed use.

The importance of Consultation and Collaboration

Consultation involved a number of safe design workshops led by the safe design consultant with key stakeholders including the client, architect, maintenance personnel and the operator. Outcomes were documented during each stage and the risk register was updated throughout the design process, and also at the end of construction.

An operations and maintenance plan was created at the completion of the project incorporating residual risks and safety controls so that people further along in the lifecycle of the complex could be made aware of safety issues.

Project Contributors

Architect: Neeson Murcutt

Client: City of Sydney

Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia


To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.

View the Project Gallery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Case Study: AIR Apartments, Sydney

Case Study: AIR Apartments, Sydney

Case Study: AIR Apartments, Sydney

This Case Study for AIR Apartments, Sydney shows the importance that a Safe Design Workshop and consultation early in the design development phase can contribute to positive design outcomes and deliverables for a large scale design and construction project.

Located in St Leonard’s CBD in Sydney, the AIR Apartments construction was situated on the site of an existing building that had been demolished. A safe design workshop took place early in the design development phase of the project so that the designer could consider safe design and eliminate any potential hazards early in the project.

Hazard Identification early in the design development phase

The proposed design of the structure incorporated a basement that was to be built to the site boundaries. Hazards associated with potential vibration and effects on the structural stability of the neighbouring structures were discussed and the designer and structural engineer determined an appropriate system of construction to ensure that the basement works wouldn’t adversely impact the neighbouring structures. In consultation with the principal contractor, vibration monitoring was proposed to be used on adjacent structures during construction.

The facade design included the unique feature of large horizontal blades that project from the building. There was the potential for maintenance loads on these blades and an accessibility issue for facade maintenance. Consultation with a facade consultant was recommended and the possibility of an integrated building maintenance unit was discussed. Pre-fabricated facade elements were proposed to reduce the need to work at height and minimise onsite welding during construction.

The challenge of separating public and private use

Another challenge for the project team was the requirement for separation between public and private uses to ensure the security of residents. To address this separation, retail, restaurant and fitness centre areas were proposed at ground level to be accessed directly from the public domain with restricted access via the lifts to the service apartments and private residential levels. Secure access to the car park by the public and tenants was addressed through the provision of a designated area on the first basement level for public parking with CCTV surveillance. Secure residential parking was provided on the lower levels with access via a mechanical boom gate controlled by a swipe card with a security intercom system. CCTV surveillance and security lighting was also provided.

The potential for objects to fall from balconies on to people below was considered and the team determined that this would be further considered through the design development stage with the location and screening of balcony spaces and the use of landscaping below these areas. Safe balustrade heights were also discussed.

Plant and Services considerations

Plant and services considerations included the provision of a plant platform on the roof with keypad entry for security, stair access to allow workers to carry small plant and equipment, and a parapet to reduce falls and protect maintenance personnel from high winds at altitude. Additional secure plant rooms were proposed in the basement area. Bollards were proposed outside lift and plan doors to prevent vehicles blocking access/egress to and from these areas. The waste management system involved the separation of commercial and residential waste. The residential garbage chute system was integrated into the building infrastructure and was designed to reduce the risk of manual handling with inlets provided at each level and with an angled chute and exclusion zones to reduce the risk of objects falling on garbage workers below.

The pool and spa deck is a unique design feature with large circular vision panels between the base of the pool and the foyer below. Further research and testing was proposed to determine safe materials and construction methods as well as safe maintenance. Discussions occurred at the safe design workshop between the designer and engineer on the anticipated plant loads (e.g. scissor lift) required on the suspended slab for maintaining the pool windows above the foyer. A plant room and lockable store for pool chemicals was proposed below the pool deck which led to discussions at the workshop on how the location might be reviewed during the design development stage to reduce the need for manual tasks including carrying of pool chemicals up and down stairs or whether alternative mechanical methods were practicable. The pool area was designed for safe use with a proposed non-climbable 2.1 metre balustrading to prevent falls and falling objects.

The Safe Design Workshop – Design Development Phase

A Safe Design Workshop was undertaken early in the Design Development Phase of the project to ensure that the designer could consider safe design whilst also identifying and eliminating any potential hazards early in the project.

Safe Design Australia led this workshop which influenced the collaboration and consultation between the designer, engineer, facade consultant and other building design and construction professionals throughout the design and development of AIR Apartments.


Project Contributors

Architect: Robertson + Marks

Client: Holdmark

Safe Design Consultant: Safe Design Australia


To find out more about this particular project, or how the Safe Design Australia team can assist you on your next project, contact us.


View the AIR Apartments Gallery – pre-design and post-construction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.