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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Risk Perception Affects Regulations

Interesting blog post by Dr. Saraf on the Risk and Safety Blog.
How the perception of risk affects regulation:

How Risk Perception Affects Regulations

Risk is a perception.
Our perception of risks is mainly affected by two factors:
(a) whether we are voluntarily accepting the risk.
(b) potential consequences of event or act or decision.
For a layman, judging a risk is often a function of catastrophic potential. For example, working in a nuclear plant is considered riskier than driving on the road, whereas statistics show that more people are killed every year in automobile crash than in accidents in nuclear plants.
The higher the perceived risk by the people the more is the demand to reduce such a risk, and consequently more people want to see stricter regulations to reduce risk.
As a result it piques interest from government, regulatory bodies, and policy makers and there is an increased incentive to have a regulatory oversight.
Perception of future risks affects regulations and these perceived risks get magnified due to uncertainties and misinformation.

Without a risk acceptance criteria and a prudent risk analysis framework, any future safety regulation will be a biased one.
A safety standard has to take into account risks/benefits/uncertainty

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