Confidential Close Call Reporting System Identify Safety Risks in Transit Operations IBT-922 ATU L-689 WMATA Metro

Questions

Background

Report Submission

Confidentiality Policies and Procedures

Answers

What is a Close Call?

A close call is an accident or other safety incident that could have happened but did not. If ignored, close calls can lead to serious consequences. They are an opportunity to improve safety practices. Minor incidents are included in this definition.

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What is WMATA?

WMATA, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, is the transit agency participating in the Close Call Reporting program. WMATA works with the other stakeholders (ATU L-689, IBT L-922, BTS, and the PRT) to review reports from the peer review team and take preventative safety actions in response to close call events.

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What is the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 (ATU L-689)?

ATU L-689 is the labor organization that represents rail and bus transit employees who are eligible to participate in the Close Call Reporting program. ATU L-689 representatives are part of the Close Call Steering Committee and the Peer Review Team.

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What is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 922 (IBT L-922)?

IBT L-922 is the labor organization that represents the bus transit employees who are eligible to participate in the Close Call Reporting program. IBT L-922 representatives are part of the Close Call Steering Committee and the Peer Review Team.

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What is the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)?

BTS is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that serves as an independent third party in collecting, analyzing, and maintaining the confidential close call data collected from WMATA employees. BTS identifies safety trends and emerging risks from this data. Then, BTS shares this information with WMATA and the transit industry by writing and distributing publications.

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What is the Peer Review Team (PRT)?

The PRT consists of local representatives from WMATA rail and bus transit infrastructure management, union officers and members, WMATA Safety management, and BTS. The team promotes the Close Call Reporting program at WMATA, identifies why close calls occur, recommends preventative safety actions, and evaluates the effectiveness of preventative safety actions that have been implemented.

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What is the Close Call Steering Committee (CCSC)?

The CCSC includes representatives from program stakeholders (WMATA, ATU L-689, IBT L-922, and BTS) and oversees the Close Call Reporting program. The CCSC developed the programís Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The committee coordinates with BTS and the PRT to make sure WMATAís Close Call Reporting program is consistent with other programs within BTSís Close Call Data Program (CCDP).

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What is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

The MOU is a document written for a specific site (in this case, WMATA) to describe the purpose and administrative structure of the project. The MOU defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties (WMATA, L-689, L-922, and BTS).

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What is the Close Call Data Program (CCDP)?

CCDP, developed by BTS, is a project to improve safety practices. Close call events, potentially unsafe conditions, pose the risk of more serious consequences. By studying close calls, preventative safety actions can be developed that can prevent the risk of accidents. The Close Call Reporting program with WMATA is a part of CCDP that has been designed to help adapt a confidential reporting system to the needs of the U.S. transportation industry. Stakeholders of the Close Call Reporting program with WMATA include ATU L-689, IBT L-922, WMATA, and BTS.

In addition to the Close Call Reporting program with WMATA, CCDP operates SafeOCS and its Near-Miss Reporting System. SafeOCS is a partnership between BTS and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). This program gathers data on near-misses, or close calls, that take place in oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

A pilot project for the railroad industry, the Confidential Close Call Reporting Program (C3RS), operated from 2006 to 2015. C3RS collected and analyzed data from Union Pacific, New Jersey Transit, and Canadian Pacific Railways.

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What does Close Call Reporting do?

The confidential reporting system:

Close Call Reporting gives the opportunity to learn what happened in close call events. That information can be used to prevent similar and/or more serious events from occurring. The confidential and non-punitive nature of Close Call Reporting results in improved trust and partnerships, and employees have more time to focus on running safe operations as fewer investigations take place. Overall, Close Call Reporting increases safety awareness in the transit industry.

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Why should I report a close call?

Information from your close call report makes the work environment safer and healthier for you and your co-workers. From your close call report, WMATA can identify and correct factors that contribute to accidents and/or injuries.

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Who can participate in Close Call Reporting?

Rail Bus
L-689 positions in the following departments:
  • Operations Management Services
  • Rail Transportation Quality and Training
  • Rail Transportation Scheduling
  • Train Operations
  • Chief Engineer-Vehicles
  • Car Maintenance
  • Elevator and Escalator
  • Plant Maintenance
  • Systems Maintenance
  • Storerooms and Material Logistics
  • Track and Structures
  • Accounting
  • Treasury
  • Applications Development and Operations
  • Capital
  • NCS Integrated Network
L-689 positions in the following departments:
  • Bus Operations Scheduling
  • Bus Transportation
  • Bus Maintenance
  • Accounting
  • Treasury
L-922 positions in the following departments:
  • Bus Transportation
  • Bus Maintenance
  • Plant Maintenance
Frontline Supervisors of the above employees Frontline Supervisors of the above employees

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What are the criteria for close call reports?

Employees included in Close Call Reporting can report any safety concern. Reports are accepted for any condition or event that is perceived as potentially endangering employees, the public, equipment, or the environment. Any concern about oneís own safety or someone elseís safety at work can be reported. Each close call report must contain sufficiently detailed information about a safety event so that BTS can evaluate it.

Reports are rejected if they are:

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What close call events are not covered by Close Call Reporting's protections?

Events are not protected if:

The following events specific to rail operations do not qualify for Close Call Reporting:

In addition, events specific to bus operations that are related to rollaway buses involving the operatorís failure to follow procedures for proper vehicle securement are not accepted for this program.

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What should I do if I see a situation that could endanger me or someone else?

Always follow WMATAís emergency procedures first. In an emergency situation, only start a close call report after you have contacted your supervisor or the person in charge.

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When do I report a close call?

A close call report must be started by phone or online within 16 hours of the close call event. The report must be finished online within 24 hours of the close call event.

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How do I report a close call?

All reports must be completed online athttp://www.closecall.bts.gov/eSubmit.html. If you are unable to start the online report within 16 hours of the close call eventís occurrence, call 1-888-568-2377 within that timeframe.

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How often can I submit a close call report?

There is no limit to the number of times that you can submit a report.

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Can a single close call report be used to cover multiple events?

No. A separate close call report is required for each close call event.

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If one employee reports a close call event and receives an accepted report receipt from BTS, is the entire crew protected by Close Call Reporting?

No. Only the reporting employee is protected from discipline. All employees involved in the close call event are encouraged to submit a report.

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Can a report be used to replace existing safety processes?

No. Close Call Reporting does not change existing safety processes.

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Does Close Call Reporting change carrier investigation procedures and drug/alcohol testing policies?

No.

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Could someone use Close Call Reporting to get someone else in trouble?

No. All reports are redacted. Any information that could identify someone is removed from the report before it can be shared. BTS does not share information that could allow someone to determine the identity of the person who made the close call report or any person referred to in the report.

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How does BTS keep my report confidential?

After collecting information on a close call event, BTS removes all information that could determine the identity of the person who submitted the report, any other person referred to in the report, and the location of the event. BTS also does not share indirect identifiers such as the train ID, bus/vehicle #, or the milepost or exact location at which the event occurred. All BTS documents and electronic media are kept in a secure room with access limited to the BTS agents who operate the Close Call Data Program (CCDP).

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How can I be sure that BTS and the PRT keep my identity confidential?

Reportersí information is protected under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). Both BTS and the PRT have signed a confidentiality agreement under this law. Any disclosure of information that could identify a reporter is a Class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Participants from BTS and the PRT receive annual confidentiality training. All close call information is stored under strict conditions set by BTS for the dataís protection.

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If Close Call Reporting is confidential, why is my name needed?

After a WMATA employee submits a close call report, a rail or bus safety analyst uses the reporterís contact information to schedule a follow-up interview. This allows the PRT to obtain additional data for an accurate, detailed understanding of the close call.

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Does WMATA, ATU L-689, or IBT L-922 see my close call report?

No. WMATA, ATU L-689, and IBT L-922 only receive a redacted summary report from BTS and recommended preventative safety actions from the PRT. The PRT does not have your personal information, so they cannot disclose it: they only receive summary reports from BTS that are redacted. WMATA, ATU L-689, and IBT L-922 do not use data to identify anyone who might have been engaged in activity that might have led to the close call or to discipline and/or decertify employees for that activity.

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Are there any conditions under which BTS would reveal my identity?

No. BTS never reveals the identity of someone making a close call report, even if that report is not accepted.

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Does BTS protect my identity from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or legal action?

Yes. BTS keeps reportersí information confidential in the event of a FOIA request or legal action for your close call report or interview answers.

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Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation