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Building and Structure Design

Safe Workplaces Through Design of Buildings and Structures 

Are you an architect, engineer, building design professional, draughter, or designer-builder who works on designs of buildings or structures which are not private residential dwellings but are intended to be used as a workplace?

Do you have control over or input into the technical design?

If so, you have a duty under Section 28 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

Section 28 of the OHS Act 2004 provides a duty for designers of buildings and structures which are going to be workplaces. This duty is to make sure that the design does not pose risks to people when using the workplace for a purpose for which it was intended.

This duty has been in operation since 1 July 2006 and applies to any design started after that date.

Designing Safer Buildings and Structures

WorkSafe Victoria has developed a Guide – 'Designing Safer Buildings and Structures' for persons who may have a duty under Section 28, Part 3, of the Act. The guide will assist those who design to develop and organise their design and decision processes and to make sure that the design enables work carried out in or around the building or structure, once it is completed, to be safe and without risk to health. The Designing Safer Buildings and Structures guide was prepared in consultation with Associations and others representing various types of designers, employers, developers and employees.

"The guide provides a method for compliance with the duty in Section 28 the Act for anyone who has takes part in the design of buildings and structures which are going to be workplaces and therefore may be a duty holder.

'Designing Safer Buildings and Structures' is not a manual for the design process, nor does it provide examples of designs which are safe or unsafe.

Information for people who commission the design of buildings or structures to be used as workplaces

The law says designers need to address health and safety issues when they are designing workplaces, and that buildings and structures must be safe for the purpose for which they are designed.

Although designers hold the duty, information and help is needed from the person who commissions the building or structure – either the developer intending to sell or lease it, or the employer when it is completed. 

Either way, the person commissioning the work can help identify workplace hazards at the design stage, ultimately making workplaces safer.

Case Studies – Help us help you

WorkSafe intends to publish case studies of design projects which have used the guide framework or other suitable approaches. The studies help to develop or use effective processes and exchange of information, to achieve safe design of workplace buildings and structures.

WorkSafe would like to hear from you if you are intending to design a workplace building or structure in the near future and are willing to share information with your peers on how you develop and apply effective occupational health and safety processes and information exchange during the design phase. Some case studies are currently being developed by the public sector in Victoria, with assistance from WorkSafe.

If you would like to develop a case study or want further details email

Information and education sessions

WorkSafe is working with stakeholders to determine the best way of providing the information to persons who will be duty holders under this section of the Act. A series of presentations and workshops will be provided directly to the public and through professional and business associations.
For further information about planning for sessions email