Safe Work Australia and Good Design Australia are teaming up to present an award celebrating innovation, creativity and most importantly, safety in design in engineering projects. Safety in design has been reiterated globally due to recent incidents involving collapsing structures and bad design practices.
Michelle Baxter, Safe Work Australia's CEO spoke to SafetyCulture.com, saying, "Considering safety in design is important because well-designed work can prevent work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses. The most effective design process begins at the earliest opportunity during the conceptual and planning phases. Effective work design considers how work is performed, the physical working environment, and the workers themselves." The winners of this award will be announced on the 27th of May, 2016.
SafetyCulture.com outlined the categories that are awarded in the new awards program:
Categories for the Good Design Award include product, service, digital, communication, architectural and business model design, and social innovation.
According to Malcolm Barker (a BSc Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Natal Durban in South Africa) and Simon Casey (a man with 20 years experience as a Risk and Safety Consultant), there has been a "significant reduction" in LTIs (lost time injuries) in the last 5 to 10 years in Australia specifically. However, this does not mean that the requirements of safety in design fall away in the country. Thanks to a law implemented from the Queensland Work Health & Safety Act of 2011, there are laws in place that require designers, engineers and governments to ensure that sites are safe and the end product are safe as well. These would be matters including:
a) the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occuring; and
b) the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or the risk; and
c) what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know about
i) the hazard or the risk; and
ii)ways of eliminating or minimising the risk; and
d) the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and
e) after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportinate to the risk
However, the Queensland Health & Safety Act of 2011 is limiting in the sense that it does not "require a positive demonstration of safety due diligence." Thankfully, to remedy this fact, the Health and Safety Executive published the UK Health & Safety Executive Reducing Risks, Protecting People document and that has a clause that ensures risk management needs to done even when the chance of risk is small:
Our policy is that the precautionary principle should be invoked where:
- there is good reason, based on empirical evidence or plausible causual hyptohesis, to believe that serious harm might occur, even if the likelihood of harm is remote;
- the scientific information gathered at this stage of consequences and likelihood reveals such uncertainity that it is impossible to evaluate the conjectured outcomes with sufficient confidence to move to the next stages of the risk assessment process
The precautionary principle is a ruling that refers to the obligation that designers, architects, engineers, and governments have. It ensures that elements of a product they produce must be evaluated to determine whether or not they are harmful to either humans or the environment. They have a social responsibility to stop any form of harmful object making its way to the public. This is very important in civil engineering specifically.
Safety is important, but that starts at the designing phase. Quality designing is key in the safety in design. In Engineering News Network Episode 8, the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Insitutue of Technology, Steve Mackay says designers should be focusing on what the market wants. He says, "As engineers we are taught to think about what the best thing is but in fact, we need to go one step further with our designs and think about what does the market want? What can I make which is simple? What will make my customer ecstatic?" He further says that engineers should think of the end user so that the product can result in a good engineering design.
To read more about Safety in Design practices read: Safe Design of Structures - Code of Practice
For useful tips on 'SiD' if you do happen to be a designer, architect, engineer or government official and want to know what to look out for, take a look at this educational video: