What is 'reasonably practicable'?

What is considered when deciding if something is ‘reasonably practicable’?

If something is reasonably practicable then, at a particular time, it was reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety, taking into account and weighing up the relevant matters including:

  • exposure to the hazard
  • the likelihood of an unwanted event
  • the degree of harm that might result from the unwanted event
  • what the person concerned knew, or ought reasonably to have known, about the hazard and associated risk, and ways of eliminating the hazard or minimising the risk
  • the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate the hazard or minimise the risk
  • after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating the hazard or minimising the risk, the cost associated with the control measures, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

‘What is reasonably practicable’ is an objective test

‘What is reasonably practicable’ is determined objectively. This means that a registered manager or other statutory appointed person must meet the standard of behaviour expected of a reasonable person in that position.

There are two elements to ‘what is reasonably practicable’. The appointed person needs to first consider what can be done - that is, what is possible in the circumstances for ensuring the health and safety of those on site? They then need to consider whether it is reasonable, in the circumstances to do all that is possible.

This means that what can be done should be done, unless it is reasonable in the circumstances for the appointed person to do something less. This approach aims to ensure that mine workers and others are provided with the highest level of protection that is reasonably practicable.