Prevention through design: Conceptual models for the assessment of a Principal Designer’s skills, knowledge and experience

Ebenezer Adaku, Nii Ankrah, Issaka Ndekugri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: The prevention through design (PtD) initiative places a duty on designers to originate designs that are inherently safe for construction, maintenance, occupation and demolition. In the UK, legislation has been introduced creating a new statutory role called the principal designer (PD) to ensure that PtD occurs during the design process. To realize this objective, PDs under the regulations must have appropriate skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) of occupational safety and health risks as they relate to construction products. However, there is a paucity of knowledge, in the extant literature and in practice, regarding what specifically constitutes PDs’ SKE of PtD and how to measure the same. Design/methodology/approach: The study undertook a systematic review of meanings of SKE and carried out content analyses to provide robust conceptualizations of the constructs SKE. This underpinned the development of nomological networks to operationalize the constructs SKE in respect of PDs’ ability to ensure PtD. Findings: PDs’ SKE of PtD are presented as multidimensional constructs that can be operationalized at different levels of specificity in three theoretical models. Practical implications: The models indicated in this study can assist project clients to clarify the PtD SKE of prospective PDs in the procurement process. Correspondingly, PDs can look to these frameworks to identify their SKE gaps and take steps to address them. Originality/value: This study contributes to the PtD literature by providing theoretical frameworks to clarify the PtD SKE of PDs. The study provides a basis for future research to empirically test the attributes of these as they relate to PDs’ competence to ensure PtD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-623
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2021 Emerald Publishing. This AAM is deposited under the CC BY-NC 4.0 licence. Any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting [email protected].


  • Construction
  • Experience
  • Integrated model
  • Knowledge
  • Prevention through design
  • Skills


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