RIBA and HSE research reveals best practice health and safety teaching for architecture students

Health and safety teaching should be integrated into design projects to be most effective, rather than taught as an abstract set of rules in isolation, according to new research published into the teaching of health and safety to undergraduate students of architecture.

The report, produced by the University of Sheffield on behalf of the RIBA and the HSE, identifies innovative health and safety teaching approaches and promotes the sharing of ideas and teaching materials between schools of architecture to ensure all construction industry graduates have the knowledge of health and safety issues to play their role in reducing construction deaths.

Philip White, HSE’s chief construction inspector said: “This report identifies that there are many positive things schools of architecture are doing to include health and safety as part of their students’ education, and this is heartening. Some very sensible approaches are being taken, and the report provides a useful framework for how this work can be developed.

 “While the research looked at how the teaching of health and safety to architecture students can be developed in innovative ways, these approaches are just as relevant to the teaching of other construction professional disciplines.”

 The report recommends:
·       At undergraduate level, students need to understand the principles of health and safety thinking, rather than the details of legislation. Students need to understand that as designers they are responsible for the safety of others, both during construction and in use
·       A consideration of ‘buildability, maintainability and usability’ at all stages of the design process is likely to be more engaging and better understood than using the term ‘health and safety’
·       Visits to construction sites play an important role in contextualising the students’ understanding of health and safety issues. The potential exists for architecture schools to form partnerships with major contractors in order to make site visits more viable. University Estates Departments can also potentially help with this.
·       Health and safety should be integrated into design projects where possible, rather than being an abstracted subject.

The report can be freely downloaded from the HSE and RIBA websites.