Living with legacy risk—the limits of practicalities?

Ben J.M. Ale*, Des N.D. Hartford, David H. Slater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Legacy risks from infrastructures and industrial installations often reveal themselves when a potential for failure has been discovered much later than at the stage of the design and construction of a structure. In which case, there might already be a problem with the legacy installation, or even a crisis, without having had an accident. When the hazard cannot be taken away, the question arises as to how much effort, if any, should be spent on improving the situation. The usefulness of the three archetypical approaches to this problem: setting a standard, the as low as reasonably practicable approach and a case-by-case discourse approach are discussed for their applicability for these legacy risks. Although it would be desirable to retrofit legacy risks to previously set legal requirements as is the case when acceptability limits are set in law or demonstration of ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) is demanded, it may be impossible to reduce the residual risk to an otherwise acceptable level without taking away or replacing the infrastructure, which is not acceptable either. Therefore in conclusion the only available solution to persistent legacy risk problems seems to be to have a thorough discussion with all relevant stakeholders until an agreement is in some way found.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3004
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Discourse
  • Norm


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