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Saturday, February 9, 2013
Rules, Laws and Regulations
Rules, Laws and Regulations
Cranky opinion Saturday
Rules, laws and regulations are what define civilization. Without them chaos would be the norm. The downside to rules, laws and regulations is when they get too specific and detailed, common sense is discarded.
Have you ever found yourself late at night waiting for a traffic light to turn green? Don’t you feel ridiculous waiting and waiting for the light to change while there is not a car to be seen in either direction?
Common sense tells you to cross. It is safe. It is more than safe. It is ridiculously safe but the light is red and you wait. Rules are rules and there is that friggin camera waiting to catch you and your common sense. Rules trump common sense and you would pay a fine for sure. So you wait. If the light was actually broken you might never get home.
In business, sometimes regulations are so unrealistically strict in order to assure safe practices that short cuts are taken. I suspect that is what happened in the BP oil spill tragedy. This is just speculation, but it is the type of thing that can happen when processes are over regulated.
Workers quickly learn which regulations are too stringent, especially when they slow a process and cost them to miss deadlines. At some point they learn they can get away with failure to “Close cover before striking.” Regulators also learn to look the other way when they learn the consequences will be zero and they might find an envelope in their coat pocket.
Before long silly regulations which are routinely overlooked become slightly more important regulations which are overlooked. Finally, when the pressure is really on, when meeting a deadline means a bonus is on the line, the regulator finds a bigger envelope, and a foolish shortcut is taken. An important regulation is ignored.
This time the “matchbook” explodes in flame, lives are lost, and the ecology of the Gulf is put at risk.
Miniscule silly regulations lead to complacency. Sometimes the excess regulations which are put in place to avoid an accident can cause important procedures to be trivialized.
Was the BP explosion the result of inadequate regulation, or overregulation? I don’t know, I don’t know squat about offshore oil drilling, but I can see a scenario where a disaster could be caused by the very regulations which were devised to avert any accident.
The preceding Cranky opinion is not necessarily that of management (Mrs. Cranky.)
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