Accountability in its truest sense refers to one’s responsibility for one’s obligations. You are responsible for some result or you are obligated to someone. These are the things you are accountable for. In practice, we would say a person is accountable when he chooses a job that best provides for his family, or that a doctor is accountable when she looks out for the best interests of her patients.
Unlike most other business measures—think earnings growth or debt load—the traditional measures of safety performance tell us little about where existing functioning actually is, and where it is headed. The deficiency of safety measurement in describing actual performance is so common as to be a cliché. The reality is that there are many variables that determine the quality of safety functioning, variables that could be detected with the right set of metrics, processes, and analysis.