March 8, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Regulators and Safety – How to Spend Limited Regulatory Budget

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 At 3.53.58 Pm

The San Francisco Chronicle
had an interesting article about the Cal OSHA investigation of the fire at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery.

Luckily, no one in the refinery was hurt when a corroded line leaked causing a fire that sent smoke billowing into the air (and nearby residents to hospitals complaining about toxic vapors).

Cal OSHA has spent 4,000 person-hours investigating the fire (they say that is about 20% of their budget – but I find it hard to believe that two person-years is 20% of their budget).

But the question remains, is that a good use of their resources?

I’m not going to get back into the philosophical arguments about “Can regulators ensure safety.” Rather, I would like to ask:

Should regulators focus their efforts on
bad actors (actual fatalities),
accident investigations, or
proactive improvement efforts?

What do you think. Leave a comment here…

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