The National Academies

TCRP F-27 [Active]

Characteristics and Elements of Non-Punitive Employee Safety Reporting Systems for Public Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Staff Responsibility: Dianne S. Schwager
Research Agency: University of South Florida CUTR
Principal Investigator: Lisa Staes
Effective Date: 1/8/2019
Completion Date: 1/7/2020

In response to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and its successor, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the FTA established the Safety Management Systems (SMS) framework as the basis for its new National Public Transportation Safety Program. FTA defines SMS as a comprehensive, collaborative approach that brings management and labor together to build on the transit industry’s existing safety foundation to control risk better, detect and correct safety problems earlier, share and analyze safety data more effectively, and measure safety performance more carefully.  
A non-punitive employee safety reporting system is intended to improve overall safety by encouraging employees to voluntarily report information on unsafe conditions or acts that would otherwise not be known or detected by transit agency management. This type of reporting system requires an organizational culture where employees and management work together to understand and address underlying safety-related problems.  Non-punitive employee safety reporting is an important element of the FTA’s proposed Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan Rule (PTASP) (49 CFR Part 673). 
The objective of this research is to present the characteristics and elements of a non-punitive, employee safety reporting system to facilitate improved safety performance for rail and bus transit agencies. This research should draw from lessons learned by other transportation modes, in particular the airline and railroad industries. Additionally, it should build on related research that has been conducted for the transit industry by organizations including, but not limited to FTA, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the USDOT Volpe Center. 
STATUS: The research is complete and the report has been approved by the panel. The report has been released as a Pre-publication TCRP Report 218. A link to the report is available here. The final report is currently in publication.

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