Last edited 27 Jul 2021

As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP)

The term ‘As Low As Reasonably Practicable’ (ALARP) is commonly used in safety management to refer to residual risks in the workplace, which should be reduced to as low a level as it reasonably practicable to achieve. Similar alternatives terms include; ‘So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable’ (SFAIRP) and ‘As Low As Reasonably Achievable’ (ALARA).

ALARP relates to the time, cost and effort required to control a risk balanced against the severity of the risk. When a risk is reduced to a point that is ALARP, the cost and effort involved in reducing the risk further would be disproportionate to the amount of benefit that would be gained.

What is ‘reasonably practicable’ is typically based on assessment, common sense, best practice, and the duties set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974). A further definition was laid down by the Court of Appeal in the case of ‘Edwards v. National Coal Board’ [1949]:

‘’Reasonably practicable’ is a narrower term than ‘physically possible’ … a computation must be made by the owner in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other, and that, if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them – the risk being insignificant in relation to the sacrifice – the defendants discharge the onus on them.’

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