Health by Design Knowledge and Capability

If you have control over design, whether as client or designer, you will want to make informed Health by Design decisions. To do that you will need both practical knowledge and the organisational capability. Defining, surfacing and applying that capability may need a significant change of organisational culture.

Change programmes are more likely to be successful in organisations that have worked to develop a high cultural maturity in the business area of the change. A higher maturity level and understanding of what this ‘maturity’ looks like should make it easier for your organisation to improve its capability when adapting to change. This remains true when adopting a health by design approach. We recognise that an organisation’s capability in implementing this approach effectively relies on more than ‘buying in’ to the benefits that health by design brings, both in terms of health and commercial benefit. It is about committing to the development or use of process, skills, experience, knowledge, personnel and culture required to be capable of making ‘meaningful’ health design decisions.

In addition to design planning capabilities and a working knowledge of the relevant OHS legislation, regulations and standards, the people with control should also have a fundamental understanding of the lifecycle of the project/product. Not only this, but they should also have the awareness and capacity to collate knowledge and skills from a range of disciplines in to the healthy design solution. The Australian Safe by Design Guidance alludes to the scale and complexity of many projects, requiring specific expertise and discipline to be included during the design process to fill those knowledge gaps (e.g. ergonomists, engineers, occupational hygienists).

To help improve your company’s knowledge and capability we recommend using the Design for occupational safety and health capability maturity indicator to understand good principles around health and safety by design. Although it is CDM based, the principles work in many other scenarios of design.

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