Re: [SystemSafety] Another unbelievable failure (file system overflow)

From: Matthew Squair < >
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2015 11:41:37 +1000


As I understand the UK HSE regulatory environment then yes in the UK context they are equivalent, by virtue of the HSE's guidance that you quote. However the Australian legislations definition of what is SFAIRP is quite different. Different jurisdictions have differing approaches I guess.

In terms of the Australian Model WHS Act 2011, hereafter known as the Act, risk is relegated to being but one element of assessing gross disproportion. In ALARP (i.e the carrot diagram we all know and love) in contrast risk is still used as the primary measure of effect. That's what the 'L' relates to after all. :)

There are a number of organisations (and regulators) in Australia who do currently use the ALARP principle, what I've found is that if you want to retain the ALARP process to be compliant to the Act you have to add a layer of additional process around the central ALARP carrot to meet the reasonable practical criteria. For example if you are in the acceptable ALARP zone and there are additional things you could reasonably do, then you need to do them. At which point you might reasonably ask why retain the ALARP risk 'process' when risk is no longer the central criteria?

As I see it the Act is aimed at articulating what 'reasonably practical' in the law means for WHS so that it can be enforced. The focus is very much on ensuring what can be done is done rather than evaluation of a risk criteria. The result is of course a precautionary design outcome.

As a side note the Act also allows for scenarios where there is no risk assessment conducted. This is for hazards that are so well understood that there is an established and accepted solution that is deemed to be SFAIRP, for example there is a regulation or code of practice. To my mind this is a good thing as it reflects reality, but once again it reduces the relevance of risk as a decision criteria under the act.

I think that defining a due process in the legislation as the Act does is something of a first, and I'm pretty sure it's going to have lots of unintended consequences. Interesting days ahead.

Matthew Squair

MIEAust, CPEng
Mob: +61 488770655
Email; Mattsquair_at_xxxxxx

On 6 Jun 2015, at 1:43 am, Martyn Thomas <martyn_at_xxxxxx wrote:


HSE regard ALARP and SFARP as equivalent. See below:

"You may come across it as SFAIRP (“so far as is reasonably
practicable”) or ALARP (“as low as reasonably practicable”). SFAIRP is the term most often used in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and in Regulations. ALARP is the term used by risk specialists, and duty-holders are more likely to know it. We use ALARP in this guidance. In HSE’s view, the two terms are interchangeable except if you are drafting formal legal documents when you must use the correct legal phrase."

In practice, if the risk is sufficiently low to be considered
"tolerable" then failure to carry out further reduction (even if
reasonably practicable) is unlikely to lead to successful prosecution. (For the avoidance of doubt, let me say that this is my personal opinion. I'm a Director of HSE but here writing only in a personal capacity not on behalf of HSE. If you have a strong reason to need a formal policy position from HSE, I can probably get it).



On 05/06/2015 06:09, Matthew Squair wrote:

the So Far As Is Reasonably Practical (SFAIRP) principle for deciding

when to stop, and no this is not the same as the ALARP principle of

the HSE.

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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sat Jun 06 2015 - 03:41:49 CEST

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