Calculating The Risk: Safety And Design Responsibility

There are a number of duties under which you may have a design responsibility in respect of health and safety at work. Such duties do not just arise in the context of construction work, and potential duties imposing design responsibility are more far-reaching.

Key duty holders

Key duty holders with responsibility for design are:

Employers Manufacturers, designers, suppliers and importers of plant, equipment, machinery and tools and of substances and materials which are used at work Those involved in 'construction work' and in particular, the persons involved in the design of construction work The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 ("the 2005 Act") does not give a definition of design and therefore, the usual meaning will apply. 'Design' can include the preparation of plans, drawings or specifications, say, for construction work or parts of a project, but can also include the plan or arrangement of elements, or a plan or scheme of a project. 'Design' can be construed very broadly, and this is consistent with specific duties imposed on various duty holders under the 2005 Act and subsidiary regulations.

Duties of Employers

All employers are subject to various duties relating to design, whatever the business of their undertaking. Beyond the general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety health and welfare of their employees, employers are subject to particular duties which include ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable,

the design, provision and maintenance of the place of work the design, provision and maintenance of safe access and egress to and from the place of work the design, provision and maintenance of plant and machinery and other articles that are safe and without risk to health These duties will extend to ensuring the safety and health of third parties, such as employees of others or visitors at your place of work.

Design duties for an employer, therefore, include considerations of the overall layout of a place of work, ensuring that visitors and others can come onto and leave the place of work safely, and making sure that equipment selected for use at the place of work complies with the relevant standards and is suitable for the task to be performed, taking account of the various characteristics (including other hazards) of the particular place of work or workstation in which the equipment is to be placed.

Duties of Designers, Manufacturers or Suppliers

Manufacturers, designers and suppliers...

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