Trust, incident reporting and injury prevention
In safety management, trust is crucial for incident reporting and prevention. Trust is often challenging, even when individuals believe that reporting incidents is justified and corrective actions will be taken. James Reason (1997) highlighted the need for a climate of trust to encourage incident reporting. Trust is essential for safety programs to be effective: ensuring anonymity and protection from disciplinary actions creates a safe reporting space.
Division of tasks and responsibilities
To enhance trust, it's vital to separate the entity collecting reports from those with disciplinary authority. This separation ensures reporting independence. Building and preserving trust is an ongoing commitment, especially for candid self-disclosure of errors. Trust is the foundation of a successful reporting program and must be actively protected over time.
Independence is crucial, and receiving organizations should be separate from the regulatory body and employing company. "System analysts should ideally have no legal or operational authority over the potential reporters." (page 200). Third-party entities can operate reporting systems to enhance trust. Tangible outcomes are tied to trust; when employees see their reports lead to safety improvements, trust is reinforced.
A Complex and Dynamic Issue
Trust in organizations is complex, influenced by factors like reciprocity, deterrents, rewards, consistency, and communication. It's not one-size-fits-all. Changes in organizational practices can affect trust differently among employees. Trust in safety management is constantly evolving and influenced by internal and external factors. There's no evidence of a universal trend towards trust. There are instances of a shift towards auditing and distrust in markets and hierarchies (Kieser, 2001). This complexity underscores the challenge of trust in our organizations.
Kieser, A. (2001), Trust as a Change Agent for Capitalism or as Ideology? A Commentary, in: Organization Science, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 2001), pp. 241-246.
Reason, J. (1997), Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, London: Routledge.