Last edited 20 Jul 2021

Design risk management (DRM)

Design risk management (or health and safety risk management in design) involves management systems, processes and procedures that ensure all appropriate health and safety issues are identified and tackled during the design process (even when there is design during the construction phase). It is not a separate process and should be part of a holistic approach to design. Project delivery tends to be more harmonious when Design Risk Management (DRM) is enshrined in the design process right from the outset.

On construction projects, managing design risk is about eliminating, reducing and effectively managing health and safety risks. In making structures safer for those working on them or affected by them. DRM involves ensuring that the intended construction work does not involve avoidable hazards or hazardous activities or allied risks, whether these are associated with the building, its use, cleaning, maintenance and so on.

One of the first steps is to identify potential risks associated with any aspect of the project, whether that is to do with the site, the intended structure and/or any existing structures on which work will be required. Once potential risks have been identified, designers must amend, revise or change their designs to either eliminate or minimise the identified risks, ensuring that any such design changes do not themselves result in new hazards.

DRM involves providing information for three key activities:

Clients must be aware of their duties in relation to risk and their implications under the CDM regulations and it is the duty of designers to ensure they are aware; design work on a construction project should not begin until the designer is satisfied that this is the case.

Competent and professional DRM ensures that the following aspects are fully considered:

Ensuring the points are in place can help minimise any adverse health and safety impacts affecting those working, using or in the vicinity of the building or structure.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered during a project’s development so that the risk of harm to those who build, use and maintain structures is reduced.

They require that as the design progresses, risks are identified and eliminated and residual risks are reduced and managed and that designers, principal designers, principal contractors and contractors take account of the 'principles of prevention' in carrying out their duties.

For more information see: Risk assessment for construction.

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