Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF)

Justifying the Suitability of Nuclear Licensee Organisational Structures, Resources and Competencies

Uppsala, Sweden,
8-10 September 2008


Organised by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority

The main objective of the workshop was to identify and compare methods and approaches that can be used to demonstrate that licensees have suitable organisational structures, resources and competencies to manage safety throughout the life cycle of a nuclear facility. Another objective was to draw out assessment principles, good practices and areas where further work is needed.

It was expected that as a result the participants will obtain a deeper understanding of the methods and approaches and good practices which can be used to demonstrate the suitability of safety critical organisations to manage safety.


The way in which nuclear licensee organisations are structured and resourced has the potential to impact upon nuclear safety. For example, if their organisational structures create uncertainty about authority, or if nuclear safety functions are not adequately resourced, nuclear safety may be challenged.

Licensees may choose to organise in different ways. However, they should be able to demonstrate that they understand all the functions that have the potential to impact upon safety, and that their organisations are designed to deliver these functions effectively. These functions, and the way in which they are delivered, may change as the licensee learns from operating experience and deals with technical and organisational issues.

The significance of this issue is increased by challenges facing the nuclear industry such as organisational changes, outsourcing, plant modernisation and new build etc., all of which take place in the context of an increasingly competitive commercial environment and might affect organisational effectiveness and safety.

There is also a growing interest from regulatory bodies in methods and approaches to continuously ensure that licensee organisations are well structured with enough resources and competencies to manage safety. The licensee should be able to show that it can manage safety throughout normal and anticipated operations as well as fault conditions and a range of projects such as ongoing modernisation and up-rating activities.


The workshop focused on identifying and comparing methods, approaches and good practices to demonstrate that licensees have suitable organisational structures, resources and competencies to manage safety. Experience and information were discussed to provide participants with a deeper understanding of available approaches and methods, along with areas for further improvement.

The workshop will be organised in a series of sessions which address key issues. The key issues will be identified by analysing regulatory expectations in this area and national responses to a WGHOF Short Survey of Licensee: Approaches to justification of Organisational Suitability” that was conducted ahead of the workshop. Each session commenced with a short scene-setting presentation followed by break-out and plenary discussions. Workshop sessions included:

  1. What methods and approaches are currently used to ensure the continued availability of sufficient resources and competence to deliver all necessary safety functions? What are the pro and cons with the available methods and approaches?
  2. How do you ensure that the organisational structure supports safe and clear decision-making and effective communication across the organisation? What methods and approaches are there to assess the process of decision-making from a safety point of view?
  3. How do you balance the adequacy of the organisation's internal staff resources with regard to the use of external contract resources? How do you assess on a continuous basis the adequacy of the chosen balance with regard to management of nuclear safety?
  4. Good practices and the need for improvements to identified methods and approaches.



The NEA Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF), is tasked to improve the understanding and treatment of human and organisational factors within the nuclear industry in order to support the continued safety of nuclear installations, and improve the effectiveness of regulatory practices. One means by which this is achieved is through providing a forum for exchange of information and experience about safety-relevant human and organisational issues in Member countries, thereby promoting co-operation and maintaining an effective and efficient network of experts. This workshop is one such means for exchanging experience and is intended to contribute towards furthering the WGHOF objectives.


Related links

WGHOF overview

WGHOF mandate

WGHOF recent reports

Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) overview

Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten (Swedish Radiation Safety Authority)

E-mail contact: Radomir Rehacek (
This page was last reviewed on 12 September 2008.