Safety in Design – Missing in Action?

By January 25, 2019 No Comments

Safety in Design - Missing in Action?

Safety in Design

This is a hot topic, with seminars, experts and lots of advice doing the rounds. However, in our experience, the Safety in Design process appears to be missing in action at project handover.

A review of a major industry clients’ very detailed handover policy and procedures revealed that Safety in Design is not part of the completion process. As Safety in Design is a requirement under Work Health Safety legislation in Australia and New Zealand it may be that industry as a whole is missing the point.  Under the Commonwealth WHS Act , Part 2, Div 3, Section 22, Cl 4 requires a ‘Designer’ to give adequate information to each person who is provided with the design.  That information in summary is:

  • Purpose – of the plant, substance or structure
  • Evidence – of testing, results etc
  • Conditions – to ensure it is without risks to health and safety when used
Safety in Design OmTrak

Safety in Design and Handover

While some consider providing the Safety in Design reports and risk assessments to the client’s project manager meet the criteria, the WHS Act specifies further requirements. The WHS Act (under the next Clause 5) requires the designer, (on request and if practicable) to give current relevant information to a user of the new facilities, plant, substance or structure. This is valuable information for the Facility Manager to receive at Hand Over.

Historically, what’s missing from Maintenance Manuals?

A recent review at the 50% milestone of a major infrastructure project showed the Design team had undertaken a very thorough and detailed risk assessment and produced a Safety in Design Report.  Most of the safety recommendations were included in the design however due to security concerns a number where omitted.  So what happens to this Safety in Design Report?  It’s passed on to the client’s project manager, who duly files it.

Further review of the same Design Reports discovered that the Designers had included a considerable amount of operating and maintenance information.  Examples included;

  • maximum safe live loads
  • frequency of inspections of key structural and servicing elements
  • methods of access and use.

Yet, this information is not part of the final handover process.  A review of a number of Operations and Maintenance Manuals showed the focus was on the contractors. The information presented was on the use of the components of the works, not how the whole facility is to be used safely.

A good example is the Electrician. Their Trade Manual will describe;

  • the type of lighting
  • proper manufactures operation and maintenance of the lights
  • warranties
  • certificates
  • spares and the like,

However, the Trade manual does not explain how the Designer’s Safety in Design assessment worked out how to change the light bulb, when the foyer ceiling in the main entrance lobby is 12m high.

Why should safety manuals be included at Handover?

In all the years of providing O&M Manuals for over 3500 projects we cannot  recall a single project including a Designers Safety Manual. Meaning there is no information to explain to new users how to use new facilities in accord with the Designers Safety in Design and Risk Assessment. The lack of safety information provided at handover has the potential to cause inefficiencies and safety risks with the facilities maintenance procedures.

It is clear that the purpose of the Safety in Design Report is not only to inform the ‘Design’, it is intended to inform the end users how to safely use the new works. Providing the report at Hand over will ensure that all new users have a thorough understanding of all the safety requirements within the facility.

If you want to learn more about including the Designers Safety Manual into your projects handover we have a prior article on the 5 Principles of Safe Design.  The team at WebFM are here to help, better to be safe than sorry.

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