Physical Safety

Physical Safety

By Scientific Council for Government Policy
Book Description

Physical safety is a core task of government. It is neither surprising nor unreasonable for government to be held accountable for hazardous substances, for food safety, for flood protection, for the spread of infectious diseases, or for the risks involved in new technologies. In 2011 the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations asked the Scientific Council for Government Policy (wrr) to investigate the scope for the development of a generic risk policy in relation to physical safety. Do citizens and businesses take sufficient responsibility for physical safety? Could the government assume a smaller role, and what part could the business community play in this? In this report the WRR argues that in order to answer these questions a distinction needs to be made between incidents, damage, risk and uncertainty. In addition, the wrr recommends that the thinking about responsibility for safety should not be placed in the perspective of a failing government, but that the central focus should be on the ambition of good governance. Finally, the wrr suggests that thinking about safety from the perspective of damage offers a useful framework for thinking through and reassessing the distribution of responsibilities. Responsibility for preventing, limiting and dealing with damage can only be assigned in advance, not retrospectively.

Fysieke veiligheid is een voorwaarde voor individuele ontplooiing en ondernemingszin en vormt de basis voor welvaart en welzijn. Mede dankzij decennia van overheidsinterventies is Nederland relatief gezien een veilig land geworden. Het is daarom noch verrassend noch onredelijk dat de maatschappij de overheid aanspreekt op (potentiële) bedreigingen en daadwerkelijke aantastingen van de fysieke veiligheid. De legitimiteit van de overheid kan onder druk komen te staan als de overheid tekortschiet in de zorg voor fysieke veiligheid. Verwachtingen over de rol van de overheid kunnen echter ook overspannen zijn, de overheid kan immers ook geen absolute veiligheid garanderen of voor elke aantasting van de fysieke veiligheid verantwoordelijk worden gehouden. In deze uitgave stelt de WRR dat de overheid niet als enige de prijs voor veiligheid en de rekening voor schade kan betalen. Ook bedrijven en burgers moeten daarvoor verantwoordelijkheid dragen, bijvoorbeeld door zich beter te verzekeren. Met deze reflectie heeft de WRR een waardevolle bijdrage geleverd aan de actuele, belangrijke en principiële discussie over de verhouding tussen overheid en burger op het gebied van fysieke veiligheid.

Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Responsibility for physical safety
    • 1.2 Request for reflection
    • 1.3 Key concepts: incidents, damage, risks and uncertainty
    • 1.4 Interactions
    • 1.5 Guide to this publication
  • 2 Dealing with incidents
    • 2.1 Risk-regulation reflex?
    • 2.2 Perceived reality
    • 2.3 Lack of evidence
    • 2.4 Tilting the perspective towards good governance
    • 2.5 Conclusion
  • 3 Risks and uncertainty
    • 3.1 Fundamental political appraisal
    • 3.2 Intertwine opportunities and threats
    • 3.3 Make allowance for the social and psychological properties of danger
    • 3.4 Utilise risk comparisons
    • 3.5 Accept uncertainty – and the responsibility for uncertainty
    • 3.6 Organise the way uncertainty is dealt with
    • 3.7 Incorporation into policy
      • 3.7.1 The national risk assessment
      • 3.7.2 Amending environment and planning law:
    • 3.8 Conclusion
  • 4 Damage arrangements:
    • 4.1 Damage as the focal point
    • 4.2 Current practices
    • 4.3 Reasons for uncompensated damage
    • 4.4 Damage arrangements as a basis for a balanced allocation of responsibility
      • 4.4.2 The role of citizens
      • 4.4.3 The role of government
    • 4.5 Conclusion
      • 4.4.1 Businesses taking responsibility for themselves and society
  • 5 Conclusions
    • 5.1 Difficult questions
    • 5.2 Key concepts: incidents, damage, risks and uncertainty
    • 5.3 Beyond reflexes
    • 5.4 Is a general policy possible?
      • 5.4.1 Reference points for dealing with risks and uncertainty
      • 5.4.2 Damage arrangements: a different perspective on the allocation of responsibility
    • 5.5 Top three on the list of priority studies
    • 5.6 Final remarks
  • Bibliography
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