From Punitive Action to Confidential Reporting
Common sense and practical experience dictate that organizations with effective reporting systems are able to learn from smaller mishaps and incidents so as to forestall serious workplace accidents (Reason, 1997;Connell, 1998; Johnson, 2001; 2001; Sullivan, 2001). Confidentiality is clearly important in mediating the number of reports. Systems that have shifted to confidentiality all show a huge increase in willingness to report as measured by the number of reports received (e.g.Madsen, 2001;Noerbjerg, 2004). The consensus is that fear of retribution, either by immediate superiors, by others in the employing organization, or by another agency, hampers people's willingness to report.Conversely, non-punitive systems generate more reports-and by extension,more learning-because people feel free to tell about their troubles (particularly if they see their line managers as involved in creating those troubles). Indeed, confidential systems whose contributors have been threatened with exposure through, for example, judicial proceedings, show a dramatic drop, or even a complete drying-up of reporting (Dekker, 2003). Reports that will be treated confidentially also differ in substance from other forms of occurrence reporting-they typically hold greater candor and higher psychosocial resolution (O'Leary & Pidgeon, 1995).
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Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety