Design Process 6.


Engineering Design – Safety considerations


Designs should consider the full life of any furniture from design, manufacture, implementation, use, maintenance through to removal and disposal. Safety of the relevant user must be considered at every stage.

Key considerations:



Display equipment should be solid and stable and should not fall or topple over if leaned upon or bumped into under normal use.

Designs should have an adequate footprint relative to the height of the unit with a low centre of gravity.

A topple test should be carried out to ensure that the display will not topple over if angled at 15%.

Sharp edges

Designs should eliminate sharp corners and edges to reduce the risk of injury should someone bump into or fall against it. If necessary, they should be rounded off or bevelled (eg: metal plates used for gear trays should have R4 radii)

Gaps and trapping

There should be no gaps that have the potential for trapping fingers or limbs and special consideration must be made relative to face and head height for a child.


Strikes and bumps

Avoid features of the design which may become dislodged or damaged if a customer bump into them. 

Counter tops must be secured, glass shelving must be effectively held in place and laminate edges protected against impacts.

Avoid using materials likely to chip or damage easily if through wear and tear or if bumped into or if they receive a knock from a trolley or push chair.

Consideration should be also be given to packing used during transit,

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips are the most common type of accident instore. If liquids are to be used with the fixture; e.g.  if hand washing or testing with customers; then consideration should be given to what happens if liquids leak on the floor. The risk of spills should be designed out of the fixture.

Avoid any aspects of the design which may cause a trip hazard at low level. This is especially important when considering the use of storage drawers in units, how can these be safely used to ensure that customers and staff do not fall over them if they are left unattended.

Designs should avoid the use of features that are out of eye line, in particular those low to the ground and which may be missed by customers or staff when maneuvering near fixture, thus creating tripping hazards.



The retail equipment must remain stable at all times, and stock should be able to be displayed securely without it falling off the display and causing injury.

No display element should be able to be easily pulled away from the unit, everything should be securely located in place.

Do not Locate heavy items at height or where they could cause injury if they fell onto a person.

All parts of the display unit should be securely fixed together, so that they will not come apart in-situ.



Doors, drawers, access panels or other mechanisms should be so designed to prevent any injury through use or ‘predictable’ misuse.

Access panels which are opened for access to powered, moving components should have isolation switches fitted to minimise the risk of injury once the panel has been removed.

Any such panel should only be opened by trained staff or specialists, be clearly labelled and secured in place using a mechanical fixing.


Thermal / Fire

Adequate ventilation of any item likely to generate heat must be incorporated into the design of the unit, to ensure that there is no unnecessary build-up of heat which may cause fire or product degradation.

Any item which is likely to get hot which can be exposed to the touch must be tested to ensure that the item doesn’t get hot enough to burn or shock, or cause product degradation.


Risk assessment

Risk assessment must begin at the conceptual stage and risks must be identified relative to how it is to function within its intended operational environment, how it is to function as an item, how persons are to interact with it and considerations made as to foreseeable miss-use. In effect the assessment should consider as a minimum requirement:

Risks associated with the item’s..

  1. Design – e.g. stability, sharp edges, height, materials used, electrical issues, etc.
  2. Transportation – from manufacturing to the retail environment, e.g. weight, manual handling, etc.
  3. In-store installation process by shop fitting personnel.
  4. Expected interactions with store colleagues or consultants when it is in use.
  5. Expected interactions with customers, including children.
  6. Specific hazards – e.g. mechanical, electrical, shelving, anticipated loadings from merchandising, Plasma or L.E.D. screens.



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