Understanding bus safety SFAIRP

This page has important information for bus operators about what is meant by 'so far as is reasonably practicable'.

What is reasonably practicable is a judgement based on the facts of each case. It means taking into account:

  • The likelihood of the risk occurring 
  • The consequence/s of the risk occurring 
  • What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the risk and any ways of eliminating or reducing it 
  • The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or reduce the risk 
  • The cost of eliminating or reducing the risk.

There are two elements to what is reasonably practicable:

  1. A duty-holder must first consider what is possible to do to ensure safety  
  2. The duty-holder must then determine whether it is reasonable, in their circumstances, to do all that is possible. 

This means that what can be done should be done unless it is reasonable to do something less.

Unless the cost of eliminating or reducing a risk is too high compared to the benefit of carrying out a risk treatment, a treatment should be carried out. 

Where you are unsure as to the likelihood of a risk occurring or its level of harm, there must be a clear presumption in favour of safety. The greater the likelihood and/or degree of harm associated with a risk, the harder it is to argue that risk treatments should not be carried out because of disproportionately high costs.

SFAIRP is judged by the standard of behaviour of a reasonable person in the duty-holder's position. It is not determined by whether the duty-holder can pay. If a duty-holder cannot afford to implement a control that is reasonably practicable, the duty holder should not take part in the activity that gives rise to that hazard or risk.

Having strong risk management processes is one suggested way to show whether you have eliminated or reduced risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

If you would like further information, please contact us.

Useful publications

Publications are available to download in PDF and Word format.