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Health by Design lifecycle

Health by design applies throughout the lifecycle, from the concept design through to product disposal. Awareness of the lifecycle stages will help designers and clients to make better decisions for health.

An effective health by design approach considers the whole lifecycle of a product and a holistic understanding of the lifecycle stages can aid the decision maker(s) throughout this journey. This allows health risks to be designed out early, preventing the likelihood of adverse health effects later and reducing the cost of health management and retrofit solutions.

In the early stages of the lifecycle, there is greater opportunity to design out health risks and hazards to fit the requirements of the concept design. As such, a designer should understand and value the lifecycle of the product being designed, inclusive of the requirements of the user. Human factors integration (HFI) is an underpinning factor in Health by Design. Human factors in terms of job design (task variety and task enrichment), ease of use (equipment and system designs) to reduce physical and mental stress, and physiology should all be considered. HFI places explicit focus on the health benefits from managing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and environmental factors (e.g. heat, lights, noise and vibration) and in broader terms looks to ensure safe, reliable and error free operations. The principles of a good HFI strategy can be found here.

Research commissioned by the Australian National Occupational Health & Safety Commission identified that a product lifecycle is a key concept of sustainable and safe design that provides a framework for eliminating the hazards at the design stage and/or controlling the risk as the product is:

  • Constructed or manufactured
  • Imported, supplied or installed
  • Commissioned, used or operated
  • Maintained, repaired, cleaned, and/or modified
  • De-commissioned, demolished and/or dismantled
  • Disposed of or recycled.

This equally applies to considerations of health and has been used as a framework to create a lifecycle tool to help raise awareness and provide practical considerations for rail clients and designers. Furthermore, this looks to build upon the established guidance which sets out considerations up to and including project handover, which is commonly the end point in the lifecycle for a ‘healthy project approach’ e.g. Network Rail’s GRIP.

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