Sei sulla pagina 1di 0
Briefing
Briefing

Determining the Acceptability of Risk

Health & Safety Briefing No. 36 May 2012

www.theiet.org

Increasing individual risks and societal concerns

This briefing relates to UK legislation and its terminology.

Did you know…

The Health and Safety Executive has developed an approach for helping to determine the acceptability of risk. This “Tolerability of Risk” framework is illustrated in Fig 1, below

Fig 1:

of Risk” framework is illustrated in Fig 1 , below Fig 1: Unacceptable region Tolerable region

Unacceptable

region

illustrated in Fig 1 , below Fig 1: Unacceptable region Tolerable region Broadly acceptable region HSE
illustrated in Fig 1 , below Fig 1: Unacceptable region Tolerable region Broadly acceptable region HSE
illustrated in Fig 1 , below Fig 1: Unacceptable region Tolerable region Broadly acceptable region HSE

Tolerable

region

Broadly

acceptable

region

region Tolerable region Broadly acceptable region HSE framework for Tolerability of Risk Greatest Risk Least

HSE framework for Tolerability of Risk

acceptable region HSE framework for Tolerability of Risk Greatest Risk Least Risk The triangle represents increasing

Greatest Risk

Least Risk

The triangle represents increasing levels of ‘risk’ for a particular hazardous activity (measured by the individual risks and societal concerns it engenders) as we move from the bottom of the triangle (as drawn above) towards the top.

The top zone represents an unacceptable region. For practical purposes, a particular risk falling into

The top zone represents an unacceptable region. For practical purposes, a particular risk falling into that region is regarded as unacceptable whatever the level of benefits associated with the activity.

The middle zone is known as the tolerable or ALARP : http://www.theiet.org/factfiles/health/hsb17-page.cfm region.

The middle zone is known as the tolerable or ALARP: http://www.theiet.org/factfiles/health/hsb17-page.cfm region. Risks in that region are typical of the risks from activities that people are prepared to tolerate in order to secure benefits. In this region, regulators will require risks to be further reduced if it is reasonably practicable to do so. As low as is reasonably practicable (AFAIRP or ALARP) is an established concept in UK Health and Safety law. The HSE’s view of risk is presented in the document “Reducing Risks Protecting People” (R2P2 see http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/theory/r2p2. pdf, appendix 3).

The bottom zone represents a broadly acceptable region. Risks falling into this region are generally

The bottom zone represents a broadly acceptable region. Risks falling into this region are generally regarded as acceptable if adequately controlled. Regulators would not usually require further action to reduce risks unless reasonably practicable measures are available. The need to ensure that all reasonably practicable steps have been taken is a legal requirement, irrespective of the level of risk. The levels of risk characterising this region are comparable to those that people regard as insignificant or trivial in their daily lives.

The above approach is a conceptual model. Moreover, the factors and processes that ultimately decide whether a risk is unacceptable, tolerable or broadly acceptable are dynamic in nature and are sometimes governed by the particular circumstances, time and environment in which the activity giving rise to the risk takes place. For example, standards change, public expectations change with time, what is unacceptable in one society may be tolerable in another, and what is tolerable may differ in peace or war. Nevertheless, the framework provides an approach that tries to reflect public concerns and obtain the best “return” on efforts to improve health and safety and drives for greater consistency in regulation. The approach should ensure that in practice, risks are controlled to such a degree that the residual risk is driven down the tolerable range so that it falls either in the broadly acceptable region or is near the bottom of the tolerable region, in keeping with the overriding requirement in UK law to ensure health, safety and welfare so far as is reasonably practicable - see brief http://www.theiet.org/factfiles/health/hsb17-page. cfm.

The boundaries between the three ‘regions’ in Fig 1 may depend on various factors, but the HSE suggest that the boundary between the ‘unacceptable’ and ‘tolerable’ regions might be at a risk of death of 1 in one thousand for workers and 1 in ten thousand for members of the public. The boundary between the ‘tolerable’ and ‘broadly acceptable regions might be at a risk of death of 1 in one million for both groups.

Further Information

„ Reducing Risks Protecting People, HSE’s Decision Making Process. 2001 ISBN 0 7176 2151 0 see: http://www.hse.gov.uk/

„ Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 SI 1974/1439 The Stationery Office 1974 ISBN 0 11 141439 X

„ Management of Health and Safety at work. Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999. Approved Code of Practice. L21 (second edition) HSE Books 2000 ISBN 9780717624881 see: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l21.pdf

The IET is unable to provide further information on this topic. Please contact the HSE. http://www.hse.gov.uk

These Briefings contain a summary of recent Health & Safety issues, provided for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The IET has tried to make the Briefings accurate and informative, but they have not been prepared by a lawyer and may not constitute an up-to-date summary of the law. The IET accepts no liability for your use of these Briefings. Further details and information on broader Health & Safety issues can be obtained from the Government’s Health and Safety Executive. Legal advice should be obtained on any specific issues.

Briefing
Briefing

For further information about the IET’s Health and Safety Policy Advisory Group only, please contact:

Health and Safety Policy Advisory Group Secretary Policy Department IET, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage. SG1 2AY 01438 765690 email: policy@theiet.org www.theiet.org/policy www.theiet.org/factfiles

© The IET 2012

The Institution of Engineering and Technology is registered as a Charity in England & Wales (no 211014) and Scotland (no SC038698).