If Self-Regulating Worked, We Wouldn’t Need the Silica Ruling

If the new silica safety ruling upsets you, think about whether you really trust ANY industry to self regulate—even our own.

Evaluating the new 1700-page silica rule is like playing a game of 3-D chess, it means something different to builders, unions and manufacturers. OK, I get it.  Nobody likes to be told what to do, or how to do it.  I agree, but here’s some advice…

Get over it!

Try ignoring the cabin crew on your next flight when they tell you it’s time to fasten your seat belt or that you can’t smoke while you’re in the aircraft.  Or try just blowing that stoplight ahead as an expression of your personal freedom and (assuming you survive that reckless act of rebellion) then try explaining to the traffic cop that you simply don’t think you should be forced to follow the law.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Every industry I am aware of claims that it must be the most overregulated and persecuted in existence, maybe in all of recorded history.  Pro-business groups, trade associations, corporations and even small businesses bemoan the rules imposed on them at every turn.  And, to a certain extent, they have a point.  After all, it seems that the ratchet only turns one way and things get tighter and tighter.

So, how about this, list your top five industries that you believe deserve to be self-regulating.

Take your time.  Really think about it.

Who did you come up with?  The auto makers?  The insurance industry?  Pharmaceuticals?  The transportation sector?   Public utilities?  Big oil and coal?  Others?

Did the construction industry make your short list?  If so, where does it rank?  That’s OK, it didn’t make my imaginary list either.

Sorry, but by their very nature rules and regulations are not designed to address the practices of the most highly responsible, just the opposite.  And the lowest common denominator in the world of construction is not one I would trust to build my project, or help me deliver one to a client.

At the end of the day, codes and standards, along with other kinds of regulations governing how we go about producing the built environment, don’t exist to benefit the provider…they exist to protect the user.  I wish we could trust people to do the right thing but unfortunately this is not a vessel into which we should place a great deal of faith.

The best we can hope for is that we have a seat at the table when rules and regulations are being developed, that we have an honest opportunity to make our case, and that when the dust has settled we have a level playing field so everybody can compete fairly.

The one absolute in all of this is that no one can afford to ignore this topic, no matter which side of the fence we come down on.  Building codes are not going away any time soon so we can either participate in the process to the greatest extent possible or continue to play the victim.

Photo by Flying Cloud