What is Reasonably Practicable?

What is Reasonably Practicable?
Safeti School

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The term Reasonably Practicable is very important in UK Health and Safety law. It allows us to balance risk reduction against time, money and effort.

You can listen to our podcast above from Safeti School, watch our animation below or read this short blog post!

Click play below to learn or refresh your knowledge on some basic Health and Safety principles

What is Reasonably Practicable?

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.

Use with caution!

Applying this principle is useful in many circumstances, though we must be careful.

There are also other specific regulations and approved codes of practice that have been laid down to deal with some high risk and common workplace activities e.g. COSHH, LOLER, PUWER, Work at Height Regulations etc.

It’s important to know what these are and how they apply to your business.

For help on assessing risk in your business, see our post here.

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