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Safer by Design

A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new-build homes

Why do we need it?

When it comes to accidents, the home is the most dangerous place to be. Every year, more than 6,000 people are killed due to unintentional injuries sustained in the home environment, and it’s the most vulnerable family members – the under-5s and the over-65s – who are most at risk.

But these accidents don’t have to happen; through drilling down to understand the causes of accidental harm we can predict and therefore prevent the injuries by creating a physically-safer home environment.

Following the Grenfell tragedy, the focus on fire safety has rightly increased, with much good work being done in this area. Current building regulations also address some key concerns.

Safer by design however focuses on the risks with a likelihood of occurrence greater than 1 in 5,000, once the current building regulations have been taken into account. For example, falls on steps and stairs are a leading cause of accidental death in the home, with at least 700 people dying as a result of falling on domestic stairs every year. The risk on stairs built to current building regulation guidance remains high. It is estimated that, annually, more than 30 deaths will occur on stairs built since 2010, with a further 1,000-plus hospital admissions and 14,000 injuries leading to A&E attendance.

What's in it?

Safer by design – A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new-build homes is a series of prioritised and evidence-based design recommendations..

The recommendations go beyond the current building regulatory requirements, and were developed in consultation with industry. They are commercially and technically achievable, and have been adopted by builders in both the private and social housing sectors.

Safer design recommendations cover nine areas. Points are accrued for every safety modification adopted, with certificates and logos granted accordingly. The more points, the higher the overall grade for the development.

Does it work, and can I implement it?

Yes! Safer by design focuses on designing out the causes of the most prevalent home accidents and injuries.

The recommendations in the framework are achievable and deliver real-world benefits, but don’t just take our word for it:

“The impact of Latimer’s adoption of the Safer by Design framework means that our new-build homes using our standard house typologies will not only be of a high standard but will also be amongst the safest in the UK market. It is naturally important that people can be safe in their own home. So by reducing the risk of accidents in everyday life, we can help our customers stay safe. RoSPA’s framework is in full alignment with our zero incidents pledge commitments and Health & Wellbeing is an integral component to our business objectives.“

Gabriel Oshevire MCIAT - Design and Technical Manager
Latimer by Clarion Housing Group

“RoSPA’s framework aligns with our need to build age-neutral properties that can meet the changing needs of transient residents”

Jayne Lombardi, Head of health, safety and insurance, Orbit Housing

“We’re confident that it is commercially, and technically, viable for us to achieve gold standard.“

Barry Oliver, group executive for health and safety, The Berkeley Group

“We rightly work incredibly hard to keep people building our new homes safe. Adopting this framework helps us keep those living in our homes safe too.”

Karl Whiteman, group managing director, The Berkeley Group

“We’ve adopted this framework, both for our own builds and those that we commission, because it’s based on solid evidence, isn’t onerous, and provides a natural progression”

Matthew Lyons, head of design standards and strategy, Orbit Homes

“I commend this document to all who are involved in planning for new homes, whether in the private or social housing sectors. Its wide-scale adoption would make a significant contribution to improving the safety of homes across our nation.“

Baroness Jolly, RoSPA President

RoSPA Partner, Orbit, one of the UK’s leading housing providers, has officially launched its RoSPA approved Safer by Design framework at its Mill View development in Norfolk.

An overview of the Safer by design
Safer by design

A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new-build homes

Contact Us
An overview of the Safer by design

An overview of the Safer by design methodology, and the accident statistics driving the recommendations


A full list of the areas covered, the recommendations for each, and the points available

Supporting technical document

Technical drawings to support Safer by design

Public health england logo

How do I get involved?

Join the scheme
Adopt the framework

Get the recognition you deserve by joining the programme. We’ll send you a scoring matrix to complete, followed by the certificates and logos you’ve earned.

Event: Safer by design
Safer by design event recordings

Watch the presentations from the Safer by design - Virtual panel event (Tuesday, September 15, 2020)

Event: Safer by design
Safer Stairs

Improving safety standards for stair design will significantly reduce the number of people needlessly dying and getting hurt.

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Public Health
+44 (0)121 248 2107
[email protected]
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