The principles of Good Work Design are published in a handbook by SafeWork Australia on the premise that well designed healthy and safe work leads to improved worker productivity. ‘Good work’ is healthy and safe work, where the hazards and risks are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. The work design optimises human performance, job satisfaction and productivity.
- protects workers from harm
- enhances worker health and wellbeing, and
- improves worker productivity.
Good work design is “how work is performed”:
- the task duration, frequency and complexity and
- the physical work environment:
- the plant, equipment, materials and substances used and
- the vehicles, buildings and structures in which work is carried out.
SafeWork’s 10 key principles on Good Work Design:
Principle 1: Good Work Design Gives the Highest Level of Protection so Far as is Reasonably Practicable (legal requirement) to employee health and safety.
Principle 2: Good Work Design Enhances Health and Wellbeing by protecting employees from harm. The healthiest workers have been found to be three times more productive than the least healthy.
Principle 3: Good Work Design Enhances Business Success and Productivity and leads to continuous improvement. Good work design prevents deaths, injuries and illnesses and their associated costs and motivates employees.
Proactively designing-out problems before they arise is cheaper than making changes afterwards. Good work design results in cost savings by decreasing disruption to work and minimising costs which arise from workplace injuries and illnesses.
Principle 4: Good Work Design Addresses Physical, Biomechanical, Cognitive and the Psychosocial Characteristics of Work, together with the Needs and Capabilities of the People Involved. Hazards and risks associated with specific tasks are identified and controlled. They should however be considered in combination with all hazards and risks in the workplace. Good work design accommodates worker diversity. It will also assist a business in becoming an employer of choice; attracting and retaining a skilled and experienced workforce.
Principle 5: Good Work Design Considers the Business Needs, Context and Work Environment. Good work design should reflect the needs of the organisation. Every workplace is different, so what is successful for one situation cannot be assumed to be ideal for another.
Principle 6: Good Work Design is Applied Along the Supply Chain and Across the Operational Lifecycle. The supply chain incorporates the design, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of goods and the supply of services. The operational life cycle includes start-up, routine operations, maintenance, downsizing and termination of business operations.
Principle 7: Engage Decision Makers and Leaders
Work design is most effective when there is a high level of commitment, support and engagement by decision makers. This includes allocation of appropriate time and resources
Principle 8: Actively Involve the People Who Do the Work, Including Those in the Supply Chain and Networks
Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must consult with their workers and others likely to be affected by work, in accordance with the work health and safety laws.
Consultation should promote the sharing of information and provide opportunities for workers to express their views, raise issues and contribute to decision making. Under the WHS Act, a PCBU must, as far as reasonably practicable, consult with workers who carry out work and who are likely to be affected by workplace health and safety
Principle 9: Identify Hazards, Assess and Control Risks and Seek Continuous Improvement
A systematic risk management approach should be applied in every workplace.
Sustainability requires that designs are continually monitored and adjusted to adapt to changes in the workplace.
Principle 10: Learn from Experts, Evidence and Experience
Various people with specific skills and expertise may need to be consulted in the design stage. Near misses, injuries and illnesses are also important sources of information about poor design and should be reported, investigated and followed up.
Internal advice can be sought from workers, line managers, technical support and maintenance staff, engineers, ICT systems designers, work health and safety advisors and human resource personnel.
Depending on the design issue, external experts may be required such as architects, engineers, ergonomists, occupational hygienists and psychologists.
“Good Work Ain’t Cheap and Cheap Work Ain’t Good!”
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Principles of Good Work Design – A Work Health and Safety Handbook.