The recently released Japanese Parliamentary Report following the Fukushima nuclear disaster revealed that the nuclear plant had not been designed to deal with the extreme situation of the earthquake and tsunami. According to the report the plant operator knew from modelling estimates that a tsunami of more than 15 metres in height could strike the Fukushima nuclear plant and would result in a major power outage. However no steps were taken to review the design of the plant and breakwater. This incident clearly illustrates that Safety in Design could have mitigated such disastrous impacts and forms an essential part of a company’s Safety Management System.
As of the 1st January 2012, the new harmonised National Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation came into force in New South Wales, Queensland, ACT and the Commonwealth. Under the new Act, designers have a responsibility to ensure (as far as reasonably practicable) that their design of a building, plant, equipment and substances (i.e. chemicals) are without risk to the health and safety of workers using them.
Recent court cases have resulted in convictions and serious fines for designers, increasing the focus on ensuring that safety risks are identified and controlled throughout the design process.
Every Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) has the primary duty to provide a safe working environment and safe plant and equipment for its workers. History has taught us that including safety in the design phase is the most effective way to eliminate risks to health and safety associated with buildings and structures.
PCBUs will have to enhance their procurement processes to ensure that risks associated with the introduction of new plant and structures in the workplace are as far as reasonably practicable eliminated in the design.
Designers of plant and structures have to develop and implement systems and processes to be able to ensure safe design and to demonstrate compliance with these responsibilities. Additionally, when designs get altered the design should be reviewed to ensure that changes do not introduce additional risks. For the design of construction projects, designers are required to provide a safety report (i.e. design risk assessment) to their client.
Safety in Design (SiD) is a process defined as the integration of hazard identification and risk assessment methods early in the design process to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks throughout the life of the product being designed. This includes construction, manufacturing, installation, commissioning, use, maintenance and disposal or decommissioning of the product.
A designer can achieve safety in design through following a process that:
A typical SiD review includes the following steps:
Typical design risk assessment tools include (but are not limited to):
Benefits of applying a design risk management process throughout the design lifecycle are not purely safety related and include:
Noel Arnold & Associates (NAA) has a range of services available to help organisations comply with their design responsibilities. We have in-house plant and construction experts, NATA accredited laboratories and Management Consulting personnel across a broad range of risk disciplines.
In addition to our wide range of risk management services, NAA is experienced in the facilitation and development of SiD workshops to assist architects and designers with the development of SiD reviews and the research for applicable industry standards for plant and structures.
For further information, please contact your local NAA office:
Sydney: Joachim Geussens on (02) 9889 1800
Melbourne: Kevin Moroney on (03) 9890 8811
Brisbane: Kylie White on (07) 3514 9222
This Risk Review is available as a pdf document. Click Here for the Adobe™ pdf version.