What is "Reasonably Practicable"?

Most of the duties under CDM2007 are qualified by the term "so far as is reasonably practicable". This is a judgement in which the quantum of risk is weighed against the cost to eliminate or reduce the risk. Where the risk is high, then the resources used to overcome that risk may also be considerable.

This balance judges the risks to the health and safety of people against the costs involved in eliminating, reducing or controlling those risks. 

This means that having identified a risk associated with project or work on the completed structure(s) the project team does not necessarily have to eliminate it or even reduce it. The practice should be to balance the health and safety matters against all other project and design criteria.

The risks to those who build, use and maintain the particular structure should be balanced against cost, fitness for purpose (in its literal sense), aesthetics, buildability and environmental impact. The issues of safety and health are in no way paramount.

Whoever makes a decision regarding the project and structures has to be able to show that the matters relating to health and safety had been considered and, if risk is accepted, that on balance, the cost, aesthetics or other considerations outweighed the requirements for health and safety.

What do you think?


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