WIT Press

Mitigating Safety Risk Through Confidential Reporting


Free (open access)





Page Range

519 - 529




386 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


C. Langer


CIRAS has been in business for 18 years. This paper demonstrates how unique insights from confidential reporting can prevent accidents, helping to improve organisational resilience – and, ultimately, business performance. CIRAS is able to ‘trap’ information from frontline staff who choose for a variety of reasons to use an independent service. This information might otherwise be lost by conventional, internal reporting systems because in certain circumstances, they may not be fully utilised. CIRAS is therefore in a position to share why some staff feel that internal reporting channels have not been successful, or in a minority of cases have come directly to CIRAS. The barriers to safety reporting, why staff choose to report to CIRAS, and the positive changes facilitated by CIRAS reports are all discussed here. In addition, the safety lessons and insights gained predominantly from the rail industry are directly applicable in many other industries too. Confidential reporting can, in fact, work very effectively in any industry where there are safety risks, as the core principles are the same, regardless of the specific industry. A confidential reporting system such as CIRAS can also help demonstrate how an organisation can enhance an already strong safety culture by promoting and exploiting the opportunities for learning. Confidential reports can help an organisation focus on what it does well – and not so well – and make the best use of its existing resources. Where weaknesses in safety defences are identified, such confidential reports offer an opportunity for the organisation to act maturely enough without feeling that such reports challenge its own authority. Moreover, they also present an organisational learning opportunity, not only to facilitate the resolution of such reports, but also to learn and understand what else went wrong within its own internal reporting processes. Over its lifetime, CIRAS has in fact facilitated the resolution of many thousands of safety issues. By taking the approach that a willingness to report apparently minor safety issues, as well as higher risk ones, CIRAS believes that


confidential reporting, safety culture, accident prevention, risk management, internal reporting, organisational resilience, feedback, learning