mr_pandakun (mr_pandakun) wrote,

Why enforcing regulations matters

From a wise poster on Slashdot. Really.

"Since part of my job is risk management, allow me to explain how this game works. It's very unethical and very inhuman, so if you have a tender stomach, you might want to stop reading now.

Risk management is about assessing and evaluating risk, then taking measures... or not taking measures. What matters is money. How much does it cost to mitigate or neutralize the risk? How likely is the incident going to happen? How much will it cost if it happens?

An alert reader will notice that there's nothing about the effect of an incident in that question. What about the environmental damage, the damage to human life, the long term effect? How about making an area inhabitable for centuries? All that is summed up under "how much does the incident cost".

And here's where government comes into play and how government dictates just what a company will do with the risk. If they act as they do far too often today, by not holding a company accountable for their actions, the sensible thing for a company is to carry the risk. Or rather, ignore it, since it will be carried by government and population. Again, the sensible thing to do from a risk assessment point is to simply forgo any and all safety and security measures beyond what's necessary to protect the company assets. Unless of course you may expect a bailout if your plant gets too hot to operate, then even that doesn't matter anymore.

Companies do not care about safety beyond what is necessary to protect their assets. They would rather install a full blown security camera and tripwire system to keep you from stealing a single pencil than to invest a hundred bucks to change their smoke filters to keep their chimney from blowing a few metric tons of SOx into the surroundings unless you force them to.

And remember when trying to "force" a company that fines are nothing but a risk assessment factor. If it's cheaper to pay the fine than to heed the law, fines will be paid. If risk, fine and expenses are high enough, creating a shell daughter company that will carry the risk and be promptly sunk in case of an incident is also an option.

Laws are, to a company, just part of their risk management and cost calculation. Unless it's cheaper to follow the law than to break it, it will be ignored."
- by Opportunist

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