plant and structure design

Importance Of The Design Of Plant And Structures

Consideration of the potential risk of falls early when designing plant or structures can result in the elimination of such risks.

Where elimination is not possible, one way to minimise risks at the design stage is to integrate fall prevention systems into the design.

Safety considerations at the design stage should include:

  • safe entry to and exit from any work area
  • designing permanent guard rails or other forms of edge protection (for example, parapet walls) for permanent fall prevention on roofs
  • future maintenance requirements, especially in relation to sloping building exteriors and windows, to ensure maintenance can be carried out safely
  • specifying the strength of roof members and other points to which guard rail or anchor points for work positioning systems will be fixed

Examples of safer building design can generally relate to the following:

  • low-level mounting of roof vents
  • the location of air conditioning units and other roof-mounted plant, such as satellite dishes, away from edges
  • the location of air conditioning and similar plant at ground level
  • the specification of non-fragile material for the roof
  • the use of permanent safety mesh
  • safer gutters, for example, installing large volume gutters and to minimise the need to access the roof for cleaning, locating the gutters at ground level or away from edges, or the removal of gutters altogether, with a smooth transition from the roof to the walls with the gutters at ground level.

There can also be specific safety requirements for particular workers doing subsequent installation, maintenance or repair work. These groups include:

  • people installing and maintaining antennae and satellite dishes
  • contractors servicing air conditioning equipment on the roof
  • window and gutter cleaners and repairers
  • designing the pre-fabrication of structures on the ground before they are lifted into position.


Safety considerations at the design stage could include:

  • providing adequate steps and handrails on vehicles
  • incorporating a fall prevention system in silos and overhead conveyors
  • ensuring workers who will be maintaining or cleaning the plant are able to do so safely
  • considering the safety of passengers.

Designers must provide information to each person who is provided with the design that includes information on the purpose for which the plant was designed and how to use the plant safely.

Buildings and Structures

Designers or constructors of buildings or structures must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers involved with the construction, use or subsequent maintenance are not exposed to the risks associated with work at height.

Therefore, at the design and planning stage, it is important to consider providing fall prevention systems as part of the building or structure.

As it is unlikely that all design work on larger projects will be carried out by one designer, consultation, co-operation and co-ordination should occur between the builder and other designers to ensure the safe interaction of the different design aspects.

When risks remain in the design work, information must be included with the design to alert others to the risks.

Providing information about safety issues is a key component to ensure proper, adequate and suitable design and installation.

The design and planning for the construction stage should include:

  • reducing the risk for those working at heights, such as the installation of guard rails to perimeter structural members prior to erection
  • reducing the time spent working at heights by pre-fabricating modules on the ground, before lifting them into position
  • sequencing of the work to be performed at heights
  • the location and condition of access roads, for example, to enable a crane to place building
  • materials in the most appropriate and accessible location, rather than the materials being moved manually
  • preparation of the ground or floor below the work area. It should be compacted and level to support plant or equipment, such as cranes and scissor lifts
  • identification of underground services including drainage, for example for the safe setting up of cranes
  • provision of permanent safety mesh.

Planning For Building Maintenance

During the planning stage, consideration should also be given to the methods by which maintenance, repairs or cleaning will be undertaken on a building or structure, for example:

  • designing window cleaning bays or gangways integrated into the structural frame
  • designing permanent anchorage and hoisting points into structures where maintenance needs to be undertaken at height.

Planning The Site Layout

When planning the site layout, the following factors should be considered:

  • the preparation of firm, level surfaces below work areas for the support of plant and equipment, such as scissor lifts or mobile scaffolds
  • the site and condition of access roads to enable the plant to place materials in and pick it up from the most favourable positions, thereby reducing, for example, the need for manual handling at height
  • safe access to and egress from work areas and amenities, including the provision and placement of stairways, ladders, catwalks, guardrails and barriers
  • the need for adequate means of escape and rescue in the event of an emergency.

If you are looking for knowledgeable and experienced scaffolders, who have leading-hands that work together with you and offer expert advice, please contact us at Skelscaff today on 1300 266 607 or contact us via our website.