Workplace Design

Last updated: May 5, 2019

What Does Workplace Design Mean?

Workplace design refers to the process of designing and organizing a workplace to optimize worker performance and safety.

It is an important health and safety issue for workers in both high-risk environments (such as construction sites) and low-risk workplaces (such as offices).

Safeopedia Explains Workplace Design

The relationship between workplace design and wellness has become increasingly emphasized by employers as an important factor of worker wellness. In industrial settings, workplaces must be designed to ensure workers can safely perform routine functions and efficiently conduct emergency safety procedures. In an office workplace, employers increasingly focus on designing environments that optimize employee wellness by maximizing conditions such as air quality, lighting, and ergonomics.

Workplace design principles involve efforts to optimize the safety and health conditions of regular work activities through measures such as ergonomic seating and temperature control, as well as efforts to protect workers in high-risk industries through measures like designing safe navigation routes through construction sites. Some workplaces use detailed aesthetic designs to reduce worker stress. These might involve the use of plants to improve mood, the use of specific types of lighting, and the use of alterations to make a space “feel” less crowded.

For higher-risk industries, workplace design can involve the implementation of engineering and administrative controls designed to make work processes safer. Industrial design principles can involve a variety of different safety-focused practices, such as designing a work floor so that workers have enough space to move around dangerous equipment or by ensuring that safety equipment is easily accessible.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the use of design-driven concepts has been documented as the most effective and reliable method of preventing occupational harm or illness. NIOSH promotes occupational health and safety through a workplace design framework called “Prevention through Design” (PtD). The PtD program focuses on preventing workplace safety incidents through the design and redesign of the tools, equipment, structures, and processes that are used in the workplace.


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