FAQ

What is “nuclear safety culture”?

Answer

Safety culture has two main components:

1     the environment created by the management and the leaders now called the management of safety, and
2     the individuals: “Safety culture is safety by men”.

Safety culture must be evaluated regularly, audited, always improved further with action plans themselves being evaluated as to their effects, and, most important, be part of the management system.

Background

The safety culture definition is “the assembly of characteristics and attitudes in organizations and individuals which establishes that, as an overriding priority, protection and safety issues receive the attention warranted by their significance”. The safety culture has two main components:
   *the environment created by the management and the leaders now called the management of safety, and
   *the individuals: “safety culture is safety by men”.
Safety culture has been translated in the nuclear safety convention into the obligation to give safety the first priority. After accidents, it has become usual to identify the lack of safety culture as one of the causes. Now progress has been achieved and one is capable to evaluate it, to improve it and to create the environment and management of the safety system. One can define three stages of development of safety culture:
   1 Safety is based on rules and regulations (compliance)
   2 Safety is considered an organizational goal (performance)
   3 Safety can always be improved (learning organization)
There is of course a strong influence of the national or corporative culture but safety principles remain the same for every one.
Safety culture is the result of a questioning attitude, a rigorous and prudent approach and a good communication downwards and upwards in the management hierarchy and the workers. Some of the key factors for implementing a good safety culture are:
    Top Management Commitment to Safety,
    Visible Leadership,
    High Priority of Safety,
    Systematic Approach to Safety,
    Strategic Business Importance of Safety,
    Absence of Safety Versus Production Conflict.

Training on safety culture is an essential tool but far from being sufficient. In summary, safety culture must be evaluated regularly, audited, always improved further with action plans themselves being evaluated as to their effects, and, most important, be part of the management system.
 
References IAEA
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