There is a phrase used in the Health and Safety at Work Act that is sometimes misunderstood;
“So far as reasonably practicable”
It applies to many duties under the Act, but what does it mean?
Practicable : means if it is possible or able to be carried out.
Reasonably: doesn’t mean doing everything humanly possible to manage a risk. It means doing what other businesses would reasonably do, in the same situation.
E.g. It would be reasonable to expect a business, where their workers use a disc grinder, to have the guard in place and operators to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.
It may not be reasonable to expect workers on a construction site to assemble all framing at ground level, before fitting the framing in place, at height. (Obviously working at ground level, reduces the possibility of a fall)
Although all businesses have different risks, what every business needs to understand is;
1. What its work-related HS risks are (especially those that have the potential to cause serious injury)
2. The likelihood of the risk occurring (e.g. falling from height)
3. The degree of harm that could result (e.g. extremely serious)
4. The options to eliminate the risk or if not practicable to eliminate the risk, to minimise the risk (e.g. Carry out as much of the task as practicable at ground level, then use appropriate edge protection while working at height)
5. The associated cost
Note: Consideration of cost should only take precedence over safety when the cost is grossly out of proportion to the risk.
The basis for the above is a WorkSafe document, available through this link;
Don’t hesitate to be in touch to discuss further.
Bob is passionate about good workplace Health and Safety. Hes experienced , qualified, easy to talk to and always available.