Download the Foresight review on design for safety

Executive summary

This review explores how a culture of design for safety can enhance the safety of the world around us. Design for safety goes beyond legislation, regulations and standards, which all play an important role for established products and services, but their limited scope often leads to missed opportunities to enhance safety by taking a broader perspective.

Design is applied to both mature industries (which have many years of experience and a good understanding of risks and how to reduce them) and emerging industries (that use new technologies requiring new ways of controlling risk which may not yet be known or understood). An example of an emerging risk is the internet that is enabling rapid innovation of new products which generate data. This data is widely shared across the internet and the risks associated with this are as yet not fully understood by the public.

A design for safety culture takes a holistic approach to understanding the influences that affect safety. Such influences are varied and take into account the broader environment within which design operates, including complex interactions, behaviour and culture. It goes beyond traditional design methods and focuses on the goal of a safer design.

Implementing design for safety requires an understanding of the challenges and the methods to address them. It needs multidisciplinary teams that bring together people with the relevant skills to understand the challenges and a collaborative approach of 'designing with' rather than the more traditional approach of 'designing for'. This can be achieved through an international diverse community that works together to identify and share best practices.