2011 – Towards increased clarity in the application of ALARP

Roger Vreugdenhil, Peter Hill, Siraj Perera, Susan Ryan

All Australian water authorities have in place dam safety programs that seek to ensure the ongoing safety and serviceability of their dams along with the benefits they secure for the wider community. Many have progressed multiple dam safety upgrades over the past decade and embraced risk assessment as a helpful tool in prioritising upgrade investment.

The ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment (2003) have been applied across the country and, coupled with State regulation, have supported dam owner efforts in reducing risks below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability”. However, it is generally acknowledged that in their current form, the ANCOLD guidelines provide limited guidance to dam owners for determining appropriate levels of risk reduction and timing of dam safety improvements. This has contributed to a range of guideline interpretations and inconsistency in subsequent dam safety investment decisions across Australia. Having achieved priority risk reduction, a number of owners are beginning to assess their dams against the ALARP principle, bringing dam safety investment within an owner’s portfolio into more direct competition with other important and urgent organisational investment decisions.

This paper outlines the outcomes of a recent study commissioned by the Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment into risk reduction principles and the application of ALARP by a number of Australian and international dam owners and regulators, hazardous industry owners and regulators, and the interaction of ALARP with whole-of-organisation investment. The paper highlights the study process and significant points of interest regarding risk reduction principles and current application of ALARP and some options for refinement and clarity.

Towards increased clarity in the application of ALARP

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