Design, usability and unsafe behaviour in the home

Each year, almost 4,000 deaths occur within the UK as a result of a home accident and 2.8 million domestic accidents result in the casualty requiring hospital treatment. New homes include many safety features to protect occupiers from injury, however the effectiveness of these can be dependent upon user behaviour. This research examined how behaviour interacts with design and how this may lead to an increased risk of injury. Forty, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals inhabiting a new home. Various behaviours were reported in relation to building features including fire doors, pipes and loft access. The accounts demonstrate that designers need to give greater consideration to the interaction between occupier behaviour and building features so that improvements in design and occupier education may lead to improved health and safety.