The Unintended Consequences of Safety Regulation

The Unintended Consequences of Safety Regulation

First published 2013 and republished by request

imageThere is currently a lot of debate, confusion and frustration around the over regulation of safety and focus on administrative controls. Read the Regulators websites and it is obvious they had the best intentions. BUT, the resulting cultural change they were hoping for is not exactly a positive one……..

Rob Long recently put me onto this great article by the MERCATUS CENTER AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY. The article uses the example of US EPA regulating the use of biofuels such as ethanol which appeared to be a solution to mounting concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, skyrocketing fuel prices, and dependence on foreign energy. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act (EP Act) in 2005 with a renewable fuel standard (RFS) provision mandating that producers add ethanol to gasoline, little did they realise the consequences. Not only does ethanol production increase greenhouse gas emission and use more energy to produce than it saves, but corn production requires increased use of pesticides, increases land erosion & water pollution. The increase in demand led to steep corn price increases. These price increases led to malnutrition, food riots and political unrest in poorer countries where corn had been a big part of their staple diet.

Extract:

As the ethanol mandate demonstrates, policies attempting to reduce risk in one area often increase risks elsewhere. In some cases, the increases in countervailing risks may even exceed the reduction in targeted risks, leading to a policy that does more harm than good. However, while the negative regulatory consequences are usually unintended, they are by no means unforeseeable. Agencies could minimize or avoid them through more careful analysis of proposed regulations before they became law.

See also:

Risk Homeostasis Theory–Why Safety Initiatives Go Wrong

My favourite quote is in relation to racing drivers on normal roads and why they have more crashes and get more fines: “At their level of skill, driving like an average driver may be intolerably boring. Imagine being a master of Beethoven and all you are allowed to play is “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”! (Wilde, …… Enjoy the rest of the article >>>>>

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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