My answer to the question is that “it depends.”
Earlier today, a friend sought my advice.
He had observed a senior member of his organization breach safety protocols. Being a responsible member of the organization, he reported it. Two months have since passed, but no action has been taken against the individual. He is asking if I thought he should whistleblow.
I replied that what is “right” is sometimes grey. This is because the “wrong” thing to do now, might be the “right” thing to do when viewed in the longer term. And the “wrong” thing to do now, might be the “right” thing to do when viewed from the perspective of history. So doing the “right” thing really depends on one’s time horizon.
I also shared that at the heart of whistle-blowing is the intention of making things better. Not punishing people. This is something many people forget, as they bay for blood.
As there are many ways to skin a cat, I shared it also depends on the outcome he wants. I asked, if the safety issue has been resolved and measures implemented to prevent its reoccurrence, or if the individual has learned his lesson, is there really a need to escalate this?
If nothing has yet been done, can he instead speak quietly with the individual concerned to make the changes? And, if the changes do happen, does it matter to him that this individual is not punished?
I am honestly not sure if my advice helped, but his is not a question with a simple answer. All answers can be wrong, and all answers can be right. It really all depends on his intent and the time frame from which he is looking at the issue.