This article demonstrates that systematic biases occur in (near-)accident reporting. This conclusion is based on a quantitative document analysis of 208 reports recently written by employees of an industrial company. The effectiveness of accident reporting, as an instrument for risk management, is hampered because employees take the relationship with their colleagues into account when reporting. The way of reporting proves to vary with the horizontal and vertical relational distance of the reporting employee to the person who is held responsible for the reported event. These findings support the Normal Accident Theory and weaken the empirical basis of the High Reliability Theory.

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Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Department of Sociology

Mascini, P. (1998). Risky Information: Social Limits to Risk Management. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 6(1), 35–44. doi:10.1111/1468-5973.00066