The impact of personal liability concerns on incident reporting in engineered systems

Jan Hayes, Janice Wong, Christina Scott-Young, Sarah MASLEN

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


Previous research on aviation and health sectors has found that individual blame for small failures discourages incident reporting and so adversely impacts disaster prevention. This finding has widely influenced practice in organizations relying on engineers. Based on a survey of Australian engineers (n = 275) this paper examines how personal legal liability considerations impact on hazard reporting and other forms of knowledge sharing. We found that 48% of engineers are more likely to report hazards despite changes in societal expectations and the tendency to blame. Only 5% indicated that they were less likely to report hazards as a result of their liability concerns. We suggest that these findings are due to the nature of engineering work, where decision-making is distributed across time, place and people. In this environment, blame and responsibility are less attributable to individual actors. Equally, reporting a hazard may act to transfer responsibility and so limit one’s personal liability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSafety and Reliability - Safe Societies in a Changing World
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 28th International European Safety and Reliability Conference, ESREL 2018
EditorsStein Haugen, Anne Barros, Jan Erik Vinnem, Coen van Gulijk, Trond Kongsvik
Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781351174664
ISBN (Print)9780815386827
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEuropean Safety and Reliability Conference 2018 - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 17 Jun 201821 Jun 2018


ConferenceEuropean Safety and Reliability Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleESREL 2018


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