The Netherlands could save billions of euros a year by scrapping unnecessary and exaggerated safety rules, according to Nijmegen University professor Ira Helsloot in Thursday’s Volkskrant.
The professor says politicians rarely weigh up the costs of safety measures against the advantages. Instead they react to emotion drummed up by the press and are afraid of angering the general public if they cannot guarantee safety 100%.
In addition, organisations which advise the government on safety measures do not have to pick up the bill themselves, he points out.
One example of a safety measure which could be scrapped is decision to buy out home owners living close to high voltage electricity cables and to put the cables themselves underground.
Parliament has approved the plan, which will cost €1.7bn to implement, because of the apparent leukemia risk associated with living near cables. However, the best result this expenditure will generate is a ‘annual reduction in the number of children developing leukemia a year from 110 to 109.5’, Helsloot says.
‘You can spend the same amount of money giving away free fruit in primary schools, which would save a lot more lives,’ the professor writes.
Helsloot also criticises the compulsory testing of cattle for mad cow disease (bse) and the ‘disproportional’ amount of money spent on installing emergency exits in tunnels.
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