investigation,91 Chris Johnson lists a dozen public and nonprofit organizations concerned with software reliability in the industry (and notes the lack of incident reporting even there). A strong safety culture has not been as widespread in some other domains.

Standards and certification regimes can play a major role in establishing and strengthening safety cultures within companies. The processes they mandate contribute directly to the safety culture, but there are important indirect influences also. They raise the standards of professionalism, the abilities they demand leads to the weeding out of less-skilled engineers, and they call for a seriousness of purpose (and a willingness to perform some laborious work whose benefit may not be immediately apparent). The need to conform to a standard or obtain certification imposes unavoidable costs on a development organization. One engineer interviewed by the committee explained that in his department (in a large U.S. computer company), the fact that managers were forced to spend money on safety made them more open and willing to consider better practices in general and somewhat counterbalanced the tendency to focus on expanding the feature set of a product and hurrying the product to market.


C.W. Johnson, 2003, Failure in Safety-Critical Systems: A Handbook of Accident and Incident Reporting, University of Glasgow Press, Glasgow, Scotland. Available online at <>.

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