{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research and forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports and data Inspiring Australia's building professionals HOUSING The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder and manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies and tool insurance Planning and safety services Building and planning services How can HIA Safety help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan HR Docs Trusted legal support Legal advice and guidance Professional services Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials and products Concrete, bricks and walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Hear what our apprentices say Advice for parents and guardians Study with us Find a course Get your builder's licence Learn with HIA
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Mates rates What we do Mental health program Charitable Foundation GreenSmart
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Australian Housing Awards Awards program National Conference Industry networking Events
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping and delivery Purchasing terms & conditions Products Building codes and standards Hard copy contracts Guides and manuals Safety and signage See all
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

What is 'reasonably practicable'?

There is a duty of care by employers or persons having control of the workplace to ensure the health and safety of all workers.

What has changed?

Under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) a PCBU has as duty of care to ensure the health and safety of all workers and other PCBUs ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

The obligation to ensure safety under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 was expressed as a requirement that persons such as employers, main contractors, self employed persons, or persons having control of the workplace ensure the health and safety of their:

  • employees so far as is practicable; and
  • contractors in relation to matters over which the principal had control.

Under the new laws the PCBU must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers:

  • engaged or caused to be engaged by the person; and
  • whose activities in carrying out the work are influenced or directed by the person.
  • while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking.

The new laws expand the duties of those on construction sites, particularly in relation to contractors.

What does reasonably practicable mean?

There are two elements to what is ‘reasonably practicable’. First consider what can be done - that is, what is possible in the circumstances for ensuring health and safety. Then 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 duty-holder to do something less.

How do I determine what is reasonably practicable?

When trying to determine what is reasonably practicable you must take into account and weigh up the following factors:

1. What is the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring?

The greater the likelihood of a risk eventuating, the greater the significance this will play when weighing up all matters and determining what is reasonably practicable. If harm is more likely to occur, then it may be reasonable to expect more to be done to eliminate or minimise the risk.

2. What is the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or the risk?

The greater the degree of harm that could result the more that may reasonably be expected to eliminate or minimise the risk.

3. What should you know or should you reasonably know about:

  • the hazard or the risk; and
  • ways of eliminating or minimising the risk.

In answering this question consider:

  • the state of knowledge about the risk
  • what the person concerned actually knows; and
  • what a reasonable person in the duty holder’s position (who is required to comply with the same duty) should know about the hazard or risk and any ways of eliminating or minimising the risk.

For example, information contained in a code of practice could be considered as evidence of what is known about a hazard or risk, the risk assessment(s) or risk control(s).

4. Are there any available and suitable ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, if so what are they?

Ways to eliminate or minimise a hazard or risk are generally regarded as available and suitable if they can be obtained on the open market or if it is feasible to manufacture a way to eliminate or minimise the hazard.

A new work process or changing an existing process to eliminate or control a hazard or risk is regarded as being available if it is feasible to implement such a work process.

5. After assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, you need to consider the cost associated with eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Please note the words underlined. The consideration of whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk is regardless of the duty holder’s capacity to pay.

Where to find more information

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

Email us

Share with your network:

More articles on:

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Find guides, how-tos, resources and more