The truth is always refreshing, especially when it comes from an unexpected source. Veteran rail manager David L. Gunn was hired by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Board of Directors to tell them how to improve safety on the DC subway system. His conclusion? “End the ‘shoot the messenger’ culture at all levels of the organization” and thereby “Create a workplace where safety is openly discussed, problems are reported and solved, and all employees, supervisors, and managers know they can ask for help without fear.” Here is the Press Release.
Wow. Ending the “shoot the messenger” culture is precisely why Congress recently passed the NTSSA and FRSA laws, to ensure that subway and rail workers who raise safety concerns are protected from retaliation.
And now enlightened rail managers are admitting the truth: management’s blame the messenger mentality not only discourages employees from raising safety concerns, it actually perpetuates the systemic problems that cause injuries in the first place. So the way to increase rail safety is not to shoot the employee who reports an injury or hazard, but to focus on correcting the root causes of the problem. And any rail managers who persist in their old ways now will be held accountable under the NTSSA and FRSA.