On Objective Risk
31 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018
Date Written: 07/30/2015
Objectivity in the science of risk plays a monumental role in the projection of the benefits from health and safety regulations, which constitute the majority of total reported benefits of all federal regulations. Claims concerning the accuracy of regulatory risk assessments have been untestable so far in that they focus on whether a risk assessment over- or underestimates the risk of exposure to certain hazards; yet such claims imply that a true level of risk is known. This paper proposes moving the debate from the realm of the untestable to the realm of the testable through study of the process objectivity of the science of risk. Consistency in adhering to a process that is meant to produce objectivity should yield objective results. This paper consolidates the existing body of guidelines and recommendations on sound risk assessment practices produced by the federal government and by various scientific bodies. It proposes that, to test the process objectivity of the science of risk as applied by regulatory agencies, a third party chosen from outside the agencies conduct a systematic assessment of major regulatory risk assessments, according to consolidated principles. The proposed process is testable, is objective, and?if adhered to consistently?has the potential to shed light on the accuracy of the benefits calculus of major federal health and safety regulations.
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