Archives For ALARP Principle

Two_reactors

A tale of another two reactors

There’s been much debate over the years as whether various tolerance of risk approaches actually satisfy the legal principle of reasonable practicability. But there hasn’t to my mind been much consideration of the value of simply adopting the legalistic approach in situations when we have a high degree of uncertainty regarding the likelihood of adverse events. In such circumstances basing our decisions upon what can turn out to be very unreliable estimates of risk can have extremely unfortunate consequences. Continue Reading…

Work-Health-and-Safety

I’ll give you a hint it’s not pretty

Current Australian rail and workplace safety legislation requires that safety risks be either eliminated, or if that’s not possible be reduced, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. The intent is to ensure that all reasonable practicable precautions are in place, not to achieve some target level of risk.

There are two elements to what is ‘reasonably practicable’. A duty-holder must first consider what can be done – that is, what is possible in the circumstances for ensuring health and safety. They must then consider whether it is reasonable, in the circumstances to do all that is possible. This means that what can be done should be done unless it is reasonable in the circumstances for the duty-holder to do something less.

Worksafe  Australia

This is a real and intractable problem for standards that determine the degree of effort applied to treat a hazard using an initial assessment of risk (1). Nor can the legislation be put aside through appeals to such formalisms as the ALARP principle, or the invocation of a standard such as AS 61508 (2). In essence if you can do something, regardless of the degree of risk, then something should be done.  Continue Reading…

IMG_3851-0.JPG

A report issued by the US Chemical Safety Board on Monday entitled “Regulatory Report: Chevron Richmond Refinery Pipe Rupture and Fire,” calls on California to make changes to the way it manages process safety.

The report is worth a read as it looks at various regulatory regimes in a fairly balanced fashion. A strong independent competent regulator is seen as a key factor for success by the reports authors, regardless of the regulatory mechanisms. I don’t however think the evidence is as strong as the report makes out that safety case/goal based safety regimes perform ‘all that better’ than other regulatory regimes. Would have also been nice if they’d compared and contrasted against other industries, like aviation.

Enshrined in Australia’s current workplace health and safety legislation is the principle of ‘So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable’. In essence SFAIRP requires you to eliminate or to reduce risk to a negligible level as is (surprise) reasonably practicable. While there’s been a lot of commentary on the increased requirements for diligence (read industry moaning and groaning) there’s been little or no consideration of what is the ‘theory of risk’ that backs this legislative principle and how it shapes the current legislation, let alone whether for good or ill. So I thought I’d take a stab at it. 🙂 Continue Reading…

There has been a good deal of print and perspiration expended in the OH&S community on the principal of Zero Harm with the proponents of Zero Harm taking the position that no industrial accident is acceptable, regardless of how small it is. There are however, certain problems with their position.

Continue Reading…

Satisficing ALARP

27/10/2010

A short and pragmatic guide on how to demonstrate what is practical and reasonable in complying with the ALARP safety goal

The principle of  As Low As Reasonably Practical (ALARP) is enshrined in the Health and Safety legislation of many western countries and embodies a hybrid rights and utility (cost/benefit) decision strategy used to determine when to stop reducing risk associated with the use of a system. (1),(2)

To quote the UK Defence safety standard DEF-STAN 00-56 ALARP is achieved when:

… it has been demonstrated that the cost of any further risk reduction, where the cost includes the loss of system capability as well as financial or other resource costs, is grossly disproportionate to the benefit obtained from that risk reduction. (DEF-STAN 00-56 Issue 3)
Unfortunately the terms reasonable and practical are unbounded qualifiers of the requirement, what is deemed to be either reasonable or practical is inherently subjective and subject to interpretation. This of course is not a good thing when it comes to writing a specification or forming a contract so from this perspective while ALARP may be a laudable societal goal but it is not a good commercial requirement. Further what do you do in practical terms when a naive customer requires you to ‘demonstrate’ the achievement of ALARP for all risks no matter how many of them, or how well they are understood?