What is ‘Reasonably Practicable’?

‘Reasonably practicable‘ means doing what is effective and possible to ensure the health and safety of workers and others. All people must be given the highest level of health and safety protection from hazards arising from work, so far as is reasonably practicable.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) should always seek to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, any health and safety risks. If a risk cannot be eliminated, the PCBU must minimise the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, by:

  • substituting (wholly or partly) the hazard with something with a lesser risk
  • isolating the hazard from any person exposed to it
  • implementing engineering controls.

If these controls do not fully eliminate or minimise the risk, the PCBU must implement administrative controls and then, if appropriate, ensure the provision of suitable personal protective equipment.

A combination of controls may be used to minimise a risk if a single control is not sufficient.

Control Measures

In determining control measures, the PCBU should identify and consider everything that may be relevant to the hazards and risks and the means of eliminating or minimising the risks.

The PCBU, when determining what is reasonably practicable, should take into account:

  • the likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring
  • the degree of harm from the hazard or risk
  • knowledge about ways of eliminating or minimising the hazard or risk
  • the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk.

The more likely the hazard or risk is, or the greater the harm that may result from the hazard, the less weight should be given to the cost of eliminating or minimising the risk.

By Sam Roberts,
Managing Director, Accredited Specialist (Commercial Litigation)