You may have seen this frequently mentioned in health and safety legislation term “so far as is reasonably practicable”, but do you know what it actually means?
It is what’s known as a qualified duty under legislation, which allows you to justify why you choose control measures to reduce the risk to your workforce thus balancing the outcome of the risk against the cost involved in reducing it.
It also involves weighing a risk against the time, inconvenience, money and effort needed to control it, but without compromising the business.
Be sure to remember that whilst there’s no control in place, staff remain at risk, therefore, think about short term, temporary control measures such as; signage, toolbox talks etc.
It can be useful to refer to the hierarchy controls (ERICPD) of eliminate, reduce/substitute, isolate, control, PPE, discipline when analysing what to do.
For example applying ERICPD as is reasonably practicable for the use of cleaning materials. They cannot be eliminated, but substitutes for bleach could be sought that are safer, but still meet the cleaning needs. Cleaning out of hours, wiping surfaces and not spraying chemicals to reduce likelihood of being inhaled, discipline is safe systems of work and training and PPE can be the final barrier to protect against the chemical whilst in-use.
It’s always best to go beyond the minimum standard to show that you are serious about safety, which means not always going for the quickest and cheapest control.
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