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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is launching a pilot program designed to enhance safety by increasing the opportunity for employees to report "close calls."Under a partnership agreement between the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), employees will be able to report incidents or situations that almost caused an accident or have the potential to pose more serious consequences, said WMATA officials in a press release.Although WMATA has instituted many safety initiatives to report safety concerns, the program provides employees another way to report incidents confidentially, which helps keep a focus on safety, they said. Close-call reports will not be subject to administrative discipline. Confidentiality for employees who report close calls is critical for the pilot's success, WMATA and ATU officials said."Close-call reporting is a proven way of gathering information at a stage when we can act to prevent more serious safety incidents, reverse bad habits or address emerging trends," said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles.Program partners also will include the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), which will receive confidential safety reports from employees. Starting this summer, WMATA employees who witness or experience unsafe conditions can submit a report to the BTS, which will maintain confidentiality. BTS will conduct interviews with employees who submit reports, then present information about emerging trends and new sources of risks to a joint WMATA/labor committee known as the Peer Review Team. The team will meet regularly to establish root causes of reported events and recommend actions that WMATA should take to stop them from reoccurring.The BTS has more than six years of experience in the same role for Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific Railroad and New Jersey Transit in the Federal Railroad Administration's separate and ongoing Confidential Close Call Reporting System pilot project.
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