March 8, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Regulators and Safety – How to Spend Limited Regulatory Budget

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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