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What does the term ‘reasonably practicable’ (Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974) mean and how can it be applied in the workplace?
Let’s take a look at the term ‘Reasonably Practicable’ – it forms an integral part of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act.
OK, so let’s look at the law first.
In the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 it simply states that it is the duty of employer’s to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employee’s.
The good news is that because this term is implied into UK legislation, UK employer’s are enabled to apply common sense and risk-based approaches toward health and safety management.
How do we decide what is reasonable?
We need to look at our options and balance the time, cost and effort against the level of risk reduction that we foresee being achieved.
If we can strike the right balance, we can truly add value for both the employee’s and for the business.
If we have a low risk, low frequency task. It wouldn’t be reasonable to have to spend lots of money on plant and equipment to further reduce what is already a low risk.
On the other hand, if we have a high frequency task that presents a significant risk to our employee/s. It starts to make sense to apply resources toward mitigating that risk.
The expectation is that we try our best to get the risk as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). OK, but what does this look like in practice?