Managing designing for safety: a framework for whole-team decision making and risk control

Bill Hewlett, Fred Sherratt, Vikki Edmondson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Designing for Safety (DfS) aims to make designs inherently safer to build, operate and maintain, but any residual risk must be controlled, something essential to realising the benefits of inherently safer designs. Here, a conceptual decision-making framework to support DfS, developed in conjunction with industry, is introduced. It aims to assist designers in communicating risk, residual risk and actions needed to support DfS, in a way easily understood by non-specialists such as clients and business leaders. The framework proposes a qualitative categorisation for DfS linked to a clear numerical scale, which embraces the complexity of engineering assessment across the full asset lifecycle, while using a form of language (numbers) that can be readily understood by all. The framework was empirically explored through an operational design workshop with the four engineers leading design and planning teams on the framework. It was found to bring a range of benefits for DfS at the design stage: it provided structure for the discussion of DfS, made the consideration of DfS objective, gave a new vernacular which improved the collective thought process, and made the debate and the resultant design decisions more accessible to non-specialists. The framework provides a tool to support the implementation of DfS across the entire lifecycle of an asset, enhancing DfS communication within the decision making process from the initial strategic definition stage onwards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Management, Procurement and Law
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


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