No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)


We call someone a "second victim" if they are involved in an unanticipated adverse event, an error and/or an injury of someone and become traumatized. Sidney Dekker rightly observed that subjecting a second victim to criminalization for their actions or omissions intensifies feelings of guilt and self-blame, worsening the associated effects observed in various settings.

Consequences may manifest like: individuals taking sick leave, undergoing divorces, leaving their professions permanently, or, tragically, resorting to suicide. Less frequent reactions by second victims involve expressing anger and perhaps pursuing a defamation lawsuit, or on the other hand perceiving themselves as deserving of punishment – implying that the second victim bears primary responsibility for the incident. But a more common response is the acknowledgment that no punishment can surpass the weight of guilt and shame resulting from the error that caused harm to the first victim. No external entity, including the state, can inflict a more profound sense of anguish than the burden of living with such remorse.
In this context, reconciliation involves the thoughtful handling of incidents or accidents, emphasizing healing and harm repair. In diverse perspectives on reconciliation, including religious teachings and social sciences, forgiveness emerges as a recurring theme. The role of reconciliation extends to the restoration of confidence, relationships, and harmony, requiring careful navigation through the complexities of shame, individual guilt, and collective guilt.
Drawing insights from sociologist Georg Simmel, reconciliation becomes a social process tied to addressing dissociating factors. Simmel identified four types of conflict termination:
1.   Victory, notably the defeat of the other;
2.   Compromise/negotiation;
3.   Reconciliation, in which the two parties choose to end their disagreement without demanding compensation;
4.   Irreconcilability.
In the context of addressing incidents, justice, dialogue, mediation, and forgiveness each play their roles. To prevent the emergence of second victims, organizations must proactively embrace responsibility and resilience, and learn valuable lessons from what happened. So, reconciliation in safety management means a dedicated commitment to healing, restoring trust, and proactively preventing harm.

Simmel: "Someone who cannot forget different events cannot reconcile because reconciliation requires forgiveness"

Dekker, S. (2013), Second Victim - Error, Guilt, Trauma, and Resilience, Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Simmel, G. (1908), Der Streit, in: Soziologie - Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.
Simmel, G. (1908), Die Kreuzung sozialer Kreise, in: Soziologie, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.