Project: An Investigation into Building Designers in Ireland and their Risk Management Duties

Completed but not published

This project was submitted on 30/01/2014

In 2009 the first enforcement case was taken against a design company in Ireland relating to design failings. The case raised important questions about building designers and their ability to produce safe designs as required by best practice and by the statutes. Having experience as a Design Supervisor (PSDP) the researcher was eager to establish the capability of designers in terms of education and training, and their attitudes towards these requirements. It was anticipated that the research would identify key factors which prevent designers from eliminating ‘construction’ risks during design, thus providing valuable information for future intervention programmes.
Quantitative information was collected via questionnaires emailed to 150 designers evenly selected from four design disciplines. Questionnaires were also emailed to the organisations linked in educating and training designers. The response rate from the designers was good at 30% whereas the response rate from the ‘educators’ was poor; this was consistent with later findings. To identify recurring themes, case study interviews were carried out with three designers. All information was analysed and set against the research framework and objectives.
Designers were found to place a high priority on safety but had low confidence in addressing it during design due to a poor understanding of the requirements. The number of designers with formal qualifications was very low and designers seemed to rely on their own experience and reading along with advice from colleagues to inform them on health and safety. The majority perceived there to be no commercial benefits in adopting a safe approach to design due to client’s unwillingness to invest in the safety process.
Despite a low response rate from the educators the study has revealed key factors for this and has highlighted the need to focus on the role of educational institutions linked to designers, in future studies.

Regulation (OSH), Risk management, Training and education

Organisation: University of Strathclyde

16 Richmond St,
G1 1XQ,
0141 552 4400

Principal Investigator: Garry McGauran

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