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Key attributes of designers' competency for prevention through design (PtD) practices in construction: a review

Che Khairil Izam Che Ibrahim (Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia)
Sheila Belayutham (Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia)
Patrick Manu (School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Abdul-Majeed Mahamadu (Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 14 July 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2021




Designers have a key role to play in the Prevention through Design (PtD) practices in construction projects. Nonetheless, previous studies indicated that the issue of competencies to perform and sustain such practices over time is of a significant concern. This study aims to explore the key attributes of designers' competencies for PtD practices in construction.


By using the Scopus database, a total of 86 papers related to PtD in construction published in peer-reviewed journals were reviewed and analysed using the well-established systematic literature review (SLR) methodology.


The review indicates that in order to be competent in PtD implementation, designers need to be equipped with tacit and explicit knowledge, technical and soft skills and experience related to PtD. Furthermore, the review identifies attributes of these competencies. Additionally, a framework that links key PtD elements/principles with the PtD competencies is presented.

Practical implications

The findings would enable contribution to the industry by providing the necessary references for design organisations to improve their designers' PtD competencies and hence, be able to meet their responsibility under relevant occupational safety and health (OSH) legislative framework.


This study extends the PtD literature in the construction context by providing deeper insights into the conceptualisation of relationship between competent designers and PtD elements. The novelty also lies in the consolidation of PtD competency attributes for designers in construction that could act as a reference for any future developments related to PtD competency assessment for designers.



The work described in this paper was fully supported by a research grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Malaysia (Ref No. 03-16/03/DCM/2020/01). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIOSH.


Che Ibrahim, C.K.I., Belayutham, S., Manu, P. and Mahamadu, A.-M. (2021), "Key attributes of designers' competency for prevention through design (PtD) practices in construction: a review", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 908-933.



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