What is ‘Safe Design’?

What is Safe Design?

Safe Design‘ is the process of integrating key construction and mitigation factors into the early stages of the design process of a structure. It can also be known as ‘Safety in Design’.

Safe Design is the integration of hazard identification, risk assessment, and control methods early in the design process of a structure to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety throughout the structure’s construction and lifecycle.

Designers can make informed design decisions to eliminate or minimise potential risks to health and safety by identifying potential work health and safety hazards early in the design process. And, this can have positive outcomes for all stages of the design and construction process.

Identifying hazards throughout the lifecycle

Designers should consider the safety of people throughout the lifecycle of the structure, including the construction stage as well as when it is used as a workplace. This includes systematically identifying potential hazards during the main lifecycle phases:

  • construction (including civil works stage and demolition of any existing structures);
  • usage (the purpose for which the structure is designed);
  • maintenance, cleaning or repair; and
  • demolition at end of life or for adaptive reuse.


Consultation is an important factor in safe design. Consultation of specialists and key contributors throughout each phase of construction can help influence and improve the safety of a design by understanding the proposed use of the structure and work processes. It may include:

  • undertaking research;
  • testing and analysis;
  • selection of safer materials;
  • knowledge of methods of construction;
  • understanding maintenance requirements;
  • identification of potential demolition needs;
  • consultation with others; and
  • applying solutions from recognised standards.

Information should be communicated to those further along in the lifecycle of the structure to inform overall safe design outcomes.

Designing for safety and design intent

Good design is important and we believe that safe design can be achieved without compromising design intent. Safe design doesn’t have to be boring! Applying a process of safe design throughout each phase of design and development of structures can lead to innovation, use of new technologies and materials, and new methods of doing things. It doesn’t need to be a roadblock to design integrity.

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

We have a range of resources available to assist organisations apply Safe Design principles and practices. For more information on WHS regulations and legislation, programs, tools and resources to support you and your team, contact us today.