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Understanding good work design

How you organise, manage and support work and tasks can affect your workers’ mental health. Good work design can eliminate and minimise hazards and risks before they become a problem.

Part of the Identify and manage mental health risk module.

Good work design benefits your organisation, workers, clients and others you work with by:

  • protecting workers from harm to their health and safety
  • improving worker health and wellbeing
  • improving job satisfaction and performance
  • improving business success through higher work productivity and innovation.

10 principles of good work design

10 principles cover the why, what and how of good work design. These principles apply to all Australian workplaces. And they relate to psychological health as well as physical health.

Why good work design is important

  1. Good work design gives the highest level of protection so far as is reasonably practicable.
  2. Good work design enhances health and wellbeing.
  3. Good work design enhances business success and productivity.

What to consider in good work design

  1. Good work design addresses physical, biomechanical, cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of work, together with the needs and capabilities of the people involved.
  2. Good work design considers the business’s needs, context and work environment.
  3. Good work design is applied along the supply chain and across the operational lifecycle.

How to design good work

  1. Engage decision makers and top management.
  2. Actively involve the people who do the work, including those in the supply chain and networks.  
  3. Identify hazards, assess and control risks, and seek continuous improvement.
  4. Learn from experts, evidence, experience and people with lived experience.

Good work design applies to all aspects of your business

It applies to:

1. The work, including:

  • how to perform it – the physical, mental and emotional demands of tasks and activities
  • task duration, frequency and complexity
  • context and systems of work

2. The physical working environment (including remote working locations), including:

  • plant, equipment, materials and substances
  • vehicles, buildings and structures

3. The workers' physical, emotional and mental capacities and needs.

This summary was adapted from content created by Safe Work Australia with permission.

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