Chapter 34.2: An Introduction to User-Centred Safe Design

Chapter 34.2: User-centred safe design approach to control

This chapter emphasises the importance of user-centred control and safe design within a framework of participatory ergonomics, and considers the roles that generalist OHS professionals can take in the workplace design and control process. Key concepts of ergonomics/human factors, user-centred design, risk management and participatory approaches to control, and safe design are described, with an emphasis on methods of infusing safe design with a user-centred perspective. The chapter provides an example of a user-centred safe design tool – Safety in Design Ergonomics (SiDE) – that employs a taskbased approach to develop effective user-centred controls in the mining industry. Also, safe design procurement and manual-task risk management are considered. Designer duties and regulations are summarised, including standards for user-centred control and safe design, and the chapter concludes with some implications for OHS practice.

Keywords: safe design, participatory ergonomics, end users, human factors, user-centred control

First year of publication: 2014
Current Version: 2019

Chapter 34.2: User-centred safe design approach to control

Table of contents


1 Introduction
2 Key concepts
2.1 Ergonomics/human factors and user-centred design
2.2 Risk-management and participatory approaches to control
2.3 Safe design
3 Historical development of concepts
3.1 Safe design methodologies
3.2 Integrating a user-centred perspective into safe design
4 A user-centred safe design process
4.1 SiDE – a user-centred safe design tool for the mining industry
4.2 SiDE methodology
4.3 SiDE outcomes
5 Other examples of user-centred safe design applications
5.1 Safe design procurement
5.2 Manual-task risk management
6 Designer duties, legislation and standards
6.2 International standards
7 Implications for OHS practice
9 Key authors and thinkers
10 References
Appendix 1: Expert comment

Tim Horberry, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD, MIEHF, CErgHF
Professor of Human Factors and Associate Director, Monash University, Accident Research Centre, Monash University

Tim’s background is in human factors, design and safety. Since completing his PhD in transport safety,
he has worked on many applied projects in the transport, industrial and mining domains. He is a
Chartered Member of the UK Chartered Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors.


Robin Burgess-Limerick, BHMS(Hons), PhD, CPE, FHFESA
Professor of Human Factors, Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, University of Queensland

Robin is a Certified Professional Ergonomist, and past-President and Fellow of the Human Factors
and Ergonomics Society of Australia. His research interests include the use of risk management
techniques and participative ergonomics approaches for the safe design of workplaces and


Neil Storey, MAppSc(OHS), MBuilding(Energy Efficient Design), BBuilding
Director, Plant and Structures Section, Codes and Guidance Branch, Safe Work Australia

Neil developed the national work health and safety safe design action for the National Occupational
Health and Safety Commission under the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012.


Matthew Thomas, BA, MEnvST, PhD
Director, Westwood-Thomas Associates; Associate Professor, Appleton Institute, CQ University


Leo Ruschena, BEng, BEcon, GDipOrgBeh, MSc(OccHyg), MIER, ChOHSP, CFSIA
Senior Lecturer OHS, School of Applied Science, RMIT University


Margaret Cook, BOT(Hons), GDipOHS, MHlthSc, PhD, FSIA, CPE
Senior Lecturer, OHS Education, University of Queensland


Chad Pettitt, BHlthSc(OH&S), BHlthSc (Hons), GCert HumFacSftyMgmtSys, MHlthSc (Risk Mgmt.), MBA, ChOHSP, FSIA, MRMIA, MAICD
Senior Consultant AusSafe Consulting

Learning Outcomes

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks. To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.

The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of a new graduate OHS professional in the workplace. It is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth


Download information about the learning outcomes

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Video: User-Centered Approach to Safe Design
Robin highlights design issues when users are not involved in design.
Date: 2015
Presenter: Robin Burgess Limerick