Health and safety by design


The concept of health and safety by design is to preferably eliminate, and if not eliminate to control, health and safety risks in infrastructure, rolling stock, equipment and processes by early consideration of potential risks and then dealing with those risks at the design stage.

Too often the planning of new works or changes to existing works fails to take simple steps that would avoid future hazards to the health and safety of workers or passengers.

Better planning, more consistent application of standards and good practice and incorporating lessons and advice from other operators and projects all at an early stage would help to reduce late changes in projects to deal with emerging issues. Crucially, it can lead to continuous improvement and drive down the levels of incidents and accidents in the long term.

  • We want to see companies monitoring safety trends and feeding back lessons learned from incidents and accidents into updating of standards and guidance.
  • We want duty holders to take a holistic view of the railway as a system and understand how their projects and works can impact others – and seek to minimise that impact.
  • We want to see the proper application of risk assessment methods early on in schemes.
  • We want credible use of cost-benefit analysis and optioneering, not using these processes to justify decisions that have already been made.
  • We want consideration of the whole lifecycle to ensure that works are optimised for maintenance and use and not just construction.

Designing for simpler, easier to use and safer systems is not just a benefit in health and safety terms, but can also give long term financial benefits through reduced construction and maintenance costs and reducing the impact of incidents and accidents in lost time and compensation costs.

Health and Safety by Design is not linked solely to infrastructure, but applies across the railway system including rolling stock, signalling and telecommunications, electrification, level crossings, stations and the equipment and systems that are part of all these areas of the railway.