as competently safe as reasonably practicable [ACSARP even?!]

"could you have done more?"

... is a great probing question many a judge has leaned across from the high bench to look deeply into the eyes of the lone person sitting alone in the dock having sworn on oath to tell the truth and the whole truth ─ and, those following the current ongoing judge led Grenfell Inquiry cannot have missed the unease and discomfort of many of the witnesses called to assist the Inquiry having to answer to such similar questioning put by the inquisitive QCs ~ such as is shown in the exchange at the end of last year's sessions [CLICK HERE TO VIEW] 

So, exploring the acronym world let's start with ALARP, which stands for "as low as reasonably practicable", and ALARA ("as low as reasonably achievable"), common terms often used in the regulation and management of safety-critical and safety-involved systems ─ the principle is that residual risk shall be reduced as far as reasonably practicable ...

... in this context, reasonably practicable means that which is, or was at a particular time, reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all. relevant matters including the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring ... what it doesn't mean is the financial cost might be argued as being prohibitively beyond budget availability! ─ if cost is the only barrier, some other way must be found to either design out the risk or reduce it to a level "as low as reasonably practicable" ─ and, where cost might be considered is where the level of risk has been reduced to a point where great cost might only create a barely discernible difference ...

ALARP describes the level to which you would expect to see workplace risk controlled. ... It is therefore for employers to ensure that their chosen design or design concept reduce risks “as low as reasonably practicable” ─  thus the “ALARP region” lies between unacceptably high and negligible risk levels ...

In its latest guide the HSE clarifies "ALARP" is short for "as low as reasonably practicable" and "SFAIRP" is short for "so far as is reasonably practicable"and the two terms mean essentially the same thing and at their core is the concept of "reasonably practicable" which involves weighing a risk against the trouble, time and money needed to control it ─ thus, ALARP describes the level to which we expect to see workplace risks controlled ...

A truly competent person being asked that question by the judge will be able to explain with good reasoning as to how it was not possible to do more ─ thus it can be seen that to answer 'yes' to the judge, would certainly encourage the judge to respond by saying that more should have been done! ─ in context, the new term introduced by ICM is ACSARP which is intended to imply the fusion of where a truly competent person or organisation will more likely ensure residual risk is at its lowest ...

Using "reasonably practicable" allows flexibility for goals to be set for duty-holders, rather than being prescriptive ─ but, flexibility means the duty-holders have to be competent to understand what 'flexibility' looks like; the options; to then be able to go beyond guessing to make robust informed decisions using their own skills, knowledge, and expertise or experience and ability.

Design flexibility of options is a great advantage for designers to exercise their flair but it has its drawbacks, too.   Whether a risk is ALARP can be challenging because it requires duty-holders and others to exercise their judgement ─ in the great majority of cases, the most appropriate decision may be reached by referring to existing industry 'good practice' that has been established by a process of discussion with stakeholders to achieve a consensus about what is ALARP.

The whole area of what actually constitutes 'good industry practice' is being challenged.  The tragic event of the Grenfell high-rise / high-risk  residential block [HRRB] fire has put the government guidance to the statutory Building Regulations in the Approved Document B under the spotlight.  The ongoing judge-led Inquiry has ascertained 'guidance' was prescriptively applied and the eventual Inquiry findings on the appropriateness of the 'guidance' is yet to be revealed.  A truly competent and able professional will know when to apply whatever guidance or to decide such guidance is not appropriate and to apply some other reasoned design solution to overcome a design problem or hazard.

For high hazards, complex or novel situations, we build on good practice, using more formal decision making techniques, including cost-benefit analysis, to inform our judgement. 

The HSE latest guidance on Risk Management [RM] is essential reading for all ... 

Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment.  Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior

An organization’s safety culture is the result of a number of factors such as:

► Management and employee norms, assumptions, and beliefs

► Management and employee attitudes

► Values, myths, stories

► Policies and procedures

► Supervisor priorities, responsibilities, and accountability

► Production and bottom line pressures vs. quality issues

► Actions or lack of action to correct unsafe behaviors

►Employee training and motivation

► Employee involvement or "buy-in"

An accident is an undesirable event that results in harm to persons, damage to property, or both, usually occurring suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes having taken significant time to reach the point of occurrence.   Accidents can be major job hindrances ─ even a near miss is also an accident, an undesired event, usually occurring suddenly and unexpectedly, but without the resulting harm to persons or damage to property.


cdm, CDM Competence, cdm2015, competence, compliance, construction, construction (design and management) regulations, construction management, design risk, DRM, risk management

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