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Good work design

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

One of the best ways to prevent and control workplace injuries is to minimise hazards early in the idea planning and design phase.

Principles of good work design

Good work design, or safety in design, considers hazards and risks as early as possible in the planning and design process.

It aims to eliminate or minimise the possibility of workplace injury or illness throughout the life of the product or process.

There are 10 principles of good work design that can be applied to support better work health and safety outcomes as well as business productivity.

The principles can be applied to all design including:

  • facilities
  • hardware
  • systems
  • equipment
  • products
  • layout and configuration
  • work and work processes.

Making sure that work, work processes and systems are designed to reduce the risk to workers is an important part of a work health and safety management system.

Principles of Good Work Design handbook provides information on each principle and offers guidance and advice to help you put good work design into practice.

Addressing safe and healthy work through design is also a national priority in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22.

What you need to consider

To manage work health and safety risks during design, you should consider:

Physical working environment

The design of the product, plant, equipment and work layout to reduce the possibility of hazards occurring in the workplace.

The work

The design of the work includes how long a task lasts and how frequently it occurs, how complex the task is and how work is performed. It also includes the physical, mental and emotional demands of the task.


This includes the physical, emotional and mental abilities and needs of workers, including those returning to work following an injury or illness.

Design duties

The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 outline design duties. Offences apply specifically to people in control of design who fail to eliminate or minimise risks in relation to:

  • Noise – section 59
  • Hazardous manual tasks – section 61
  • Confined spaces – section 64
  • Plant and structures – chapter 5
  • Construction work – section 295.

Case studies

Case studies show examples of organisations putting good work design into practice:

Page last reviewed: 03 December 2020
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Date printed 02 Dec 2021