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Precautionary principle

How to manage emerging risks with uncertain situations?

On each situation, we can estimate the nature and duration of the potential exposure to risk. However there are uncertainties on dangerousness at this time because of lack of stable data on the toxicity. Or, a risk refers to two criterions: the danger and the exposition. In this case, the regulation entities plan to implement the precautionary principle.


“Prevention is better than cure.


A global issue.

In France, the law of February 2, 1995, stipulates that the absence of certainty, considering scientific and technical knowledge at the time, should not delay the use of effective and balanced measures to prevent a risk of serious and irreversible damage, etc”.

In February 2005, the French Parliament included in the Constitution, the Charter of the environment which states: “When damage occurs, although this is uncertain considering the current scientific knowledge, which could affect the environment in a serious and irreversible way, the public authorities will ensure, …the implementation of risk assessment procedures and the use of temporary and balanced measures in order to avoid the damage” (art.5).

In the workplace in terms of responsibility, the technical ignorance of a risk does not protect an employer from prosecution; on the other hand the application of the precautionary principle should not block initiatives to study the risks.