Red tape as a force for good?

Red Tape” is often mentioned as a scourge on business growth and occupational health and safety (OHS) is frequently mentioned. But this week on Australian radio, red tape was described as a positive. It was a peculiar comment that should be noted in the red tape debate.

On ABC Radio’s AM program on 30 December 2015, in a discussion about vaccinations, Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, stated:

“I would prefer to see a less coercive, more inclusive strategy brought in and one of the simplest things to do, which has been shown in research to work, is to increase the administrative barriers to conscientious objection to vaccinations.

So basically if it’s easier to fill in a form and object to vaccination than it is to go and get your vaccine, people will object if they’re that way inclined. If you make it harder to fill in the forms and apply for conscientious objection then to go and get your vaccine then fewer people will go down that route, that’s been shown in studies.” (emphasis added)

This blog takes no position on vaccinations but the quote illustrates how people’s choices can be affected by a conscious decision by a government agency or organisation to make it harder to fill in the forms.

Whether such a tactic, apparently supported by research, has been applied in the OHS sector cannot be determined but all of the red tape debate has been about reducing the administrative burden and here is a suggestion that the burden be used to affect people’s choices. Curious.

Kevin Jones

Categories enforcement, evidence, hazards, health, law, OHS, red tape, safety, wellness

2 thoughts on “Red tape as a force for good?”

  1. What an interesting comment. It certainly may be a positive approach to some of the issues in trying to get people thinking about what and how they will approach workplace safety.

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