- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 29 Jan 2020
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:
- Information that allows other design team members (including the contractor) to design and prepare;
- Information to facilitate health and safety throughout the project’s duration, and
- Information that allows risk management to be accounted for in tenders and pricing.
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:
- The right competences are in place for the design work;
- The structure can be safely maintained;
- Questions concerning cleaning, access, alterations, refurbishments, removal and demolition are answerable;
- Those undertaking the above works are competent, and
- The information is available to allow all the above to do their jobs safely and efficiently.
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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Access to construction sites.
- As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).
- Construction management statement.
- Conflict avoidance.
- Construction health risks.
- Construction phase plan.
- Deleterious materials.
- Engineers and hurricanes.
- Health and safety.
- How to write a method statement.
- Interface risk in construction.
- Manual handling assessment chart.
- Method statements.
- Near miss.
- Permit to work.
- Pre-construction information.
- Principal contractor.
- Principal designer.
- Principles of prevention.
- Project risk.
- Risk assessment for construction.
- Risk assessments and method statements.
- Risk management.
- Safety audit.
- Sweeping building safety measures announced.
- Temporary works.
- What is a hazard?
 External resources
Featured articles and news
The first US building to achieve BREEAM Outstanding In-Use.
70 buildings from 70 years of Concrete Quarterly. Book review.
Conserving the iron roof at the Albert Dock.
Delivering an infrastructure revolution.
The admissibility of evidence.
How many can you name? 37 anyone?
CIOB respond to the points-based system.
When is the weather considered 'exceptionally adverse'?
ECA backs call for a rolling programme of rail electrification.
What does 'curtilage' mean and why does it matter?
Our duty to prevent harm and protect each other.