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Barriers to reporting workplace incidents: Why cultures of non-report form

Celebrate Our Differences has shared its research findings on factors that present barriers to reporting workplace incidents and contribute to cultures of non-report. The study's purpose was to build an understanding of why cultures of non-report develop by exploring human, workplace/organizational, and external factors identified by industrial sector personnel in Northern Alberta, Canada. By understanding reporting barriers and cultures of non-report, organizations and industries can work alongside personnel to co-develop solutions that better support people-centered safety.

The study found five key factors present barriers to reporting workplace incidents and contribute to cultures of non-report:

  • workplace pressures related to safety performance metrics

  • undue reporting policies, processes, and procedures

  • mistrust between workers and their supervisory/management and safety personnel

  • fear of repercussions

  • workplace environments that negatively impact self-image and social perceptions

These factors represent the barriers people face when deciding to report or not report a workplace incident. As such, a culture of non-report presents itself as a subculture, which is existent because some workgroups but not others, and some personnel within the respective workgroup but not others, engage in non-reporting practices. This research was conducted by Rana Van Tuyl, Celebrate Our Differences' founder.

“This research study, which was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, is particularly relevant now due to the current state of the pandemic and heightened job security concerns. If people do not feel psychologically safe to report workplace incidents, the physical safety and mental health of workers are at risk” said Rana Van Tuyl, Celebrate Our Differences Founder and Principal Consultant. “To overcome these barriers and create workplace environments that support people-centered safety, this begins with understanding how employees and contractors are impacted by systemic issues in the workplace and industry. Personnel should be authentically included as valued knowledge contributors and co-developer of solutions.”

The participant organization was a multinational that provides construction and technical services on industrial facilities. This qualitative study collected data through semi-structured interviews, and the results were analysed thematically. These workplace barriers can be addressed by co-developing solutions such as those proposed in this paper that incorporate people-centered safety into organizational culture. A future participatory action research (PAR) study that further involves field personnel, contractor organizations, and site owners/operators is also recommended to expand the co-development of solutions for industrial sectors and other industries.

Read the full research paper here:

Van Tuyl (2020) - Factors that Present B
Download • 3.15MB

About C.O.D

Celebrate Our Differences is a social venture supporting the development of workplaces and communities to co-create places of belonging. Providing organizational culture and community development consulting services, we work alongside organizations to address complex challenges through co-creation approaches that enable people to participate more fully in the workplace and community.

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