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rojo's avatar

Can you give examples of where voluntary guidelines/regulations for business have actually worked in the real world?

Asked by rojo (24179points) July 11th, 2017

As asked (not a homework problem).

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3 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

what a lonely question this is going to be. The closest I can come are the programs where companies adopt a section of highway to keep trash and litter free. And another, I suppose would participation in community blood drives.

Zaku's avatar

Define “actually worked”.

CWOTUS's avatar

The industry I work in – at least in this country, and in several important respects – is only “voluntarily” regulated (self-regulated, for the most part).

That is, power boiler design, fabrication, procurement, erection, testing and operation / maintenance. There are very few “hard laws” that govern the specifics of the industry. (Sure, there are all kinds of regulation, including permitting laws to enable the creation of a plant in the first place, OSHA regs that govern all aspects of worker safety, and environmental regulations regarding disposal of waste products, etc.) There are not many laws that govern the most dangerous parts of the business.

We make machines weighing thousands of tons, occupying whole buildings that are 200’ tall or higher, which produce steam at temperatures exceeding 1100°F and pressures around 4000 psi. When these things fail, which can happen, they are instant death to those nearby, and huge catastrophe – apart from the massive financial loss. But you don’t often hear of them failing, at least catastrophically. (They frequently enough suffer small issues on a year-in and year-out basis that they’re not “absolutely” fool-proof, but the small failures generally spur improved review of maintenance and operations issues, and which help to improve the whole system of self-regulation.)

The system that we rely upon is a self-governing, entirely voluntary cooperation known as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in our case, Section I for “Boilers and Pressure Vessels” (which includes the Power Piping the delivers the high temperature, high pressure steam to and return from steam turbines).

I’ve spoken of this before.

The ASME BPV Code is just one Section of the Code – and not even the only one that we work to. Section II (2) is about materials standards. Section III is the division of the Code dealing with nuclear power generation. Section V deals with methods and practices of non-destructive examination (NDE) including industrial radiography, ultrasonic examination, liquid dye-penetrant examination, and others. This also contains the standards and qualifications of inspectors themselves, as well as the method and practice of making examinations and evaluations. Section IX deals with welding and heat treatment.

To give some idea of the way this “actually works”, ASME is a self-governing body consisting of representatives from design firms, professional engineers, erection contractors, insurers, plant owners and operators and others with vital interest in the rules to be developed, which will govern all who “build in accordance with ASME” to recognized and verified standards. Part of the Code involves the employment of independent third-party inspectors (generally especially qualified and experienced employees of the insurance companies to underwrite these projects) who have access to all phases of the design, fabrication, erection, testing and operation of the plants – and the responsibility to sign off for review and acceptance at all stages of the work.

Even beyond the initial construction and operation, once a power boiler has been completed in the USA it is generally registered with the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, who will track (and may be called upon from time to time to inspect) the history of the item, and further regulate permitted repairs, re-ratings and modification / reconstruction of the plant through its lifetime via the National Board Inspection Code (NBIC), which is only coincidentally related to ASME. (Since they deal with the same physical objects, and a lot of common techniques, after all.)

In fact, the degree of independence of these organizations is illustrated by the manner in which governments do address them. In many states and other jurisdictions, the law specifically says that “Construction, operation and maintenance to be performed in accordance with ASME and NBIC.” Period. (A handful of jurisdictions actually do have laws dealing with boilers and pressure vessels, and those are tricky places to work, as a rule, and don’t often have many facilities to deal with – it seems that no one wants to build plants in those areas.)

I don’t want to give the impression that these are “loose” or “casual” organizations – or that they are free from politics. But the organizations are tightly regulated – internally – merit-and-fact-based, transparent and quite public.

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