Design for safety implementation factors: a literature review

© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: Decisions made during the design stage of construction works can significantly reduce the risk of occurrence of occupational accidents, injuries and illnesses. Moreover, it has been established that design is one of the major contributors of accidents and injuries. Design for safety (DfS) studies within construction have highlighted factors affecting the implementation of DfS, among which are designer attitude; DfS knowledge/awareness and education; availability of DfS tools, including guidance; client’s influence and motivation; and legislation. The purpose of this study is to carry out an in-depth literature review of DfS studies within construction to explore the extent to which existing DfS research has looked at the above-listed DfS implementation factors. Design/methodology/approach: A review of 164 journal articles related to DfS in construction (published from 1990 to 2017) within built environment, engineering and multidisciplinary safety journals was undertaken. Findings: The findings indicate that around 60 per cent of the journal articles reviewed address designer knowledge/awareness and education issues, about 27 per cent looked at DfS implementation tools to assist designers to undertake DfS, about 23 per cent studied client influence/motivation, about 16 per cent studied designers’ attitudes towards DfS implementation and approximately 16 per cent looked at the role of legislation in DfS implementation. The literature points that client influence/motivation and legislation are very influential DfS implementation factors despite a limited number of studies in these areas. Originality/value: Overall, the findings provide an indication of areas of DfS implementation, particularly client influence/motivation and legislation, where more research would be needed to promote DfS in construction to help mitigate the occurrence of accidents and injuries.