Safety culture is a well‑recognised organisational concept in the nuclear energy field, but the influence of the national context on nuclear safety culture is now the new paradigm around which the leading safety experts debate.
The second Country‑Specific Nuclear Safety Culture Forum held on 6‑7 March 2019 by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in Helsinki, Finland, in co‑operation with the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK), raised awareness of the potential safety culture challenges related to national characteristics.
The purpose of this forum was to identify cultural features with relevance to nuclear safety. Topics discussed included management, decision‑making and communication.
The event brought together 60 experts from the Finnish nuclear community and nine international observers from Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, representing the industry and regulatory organisations. Participants included senior experts from all major organisations in the nuclear energy field in Finland, including the regulator, licensees and operators. Participants spent two days exploring how the Finnish characteristics could affect safety culture. They also held focus group discussions, analysed data and identified Finnish traits that may strengthen or impact safety. In plenary sessions, the participants shared approaches to improve and/or maintain a healthy safety culture.
"We are very pleased to have this forum. Good safety culture is of utmost importance for ensuring safety in the use of nuclear energy. Lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident eight years ago indicated that features of national culture may impact nuclear safety. Therefore it is important for us to discuss and understand which features in the Finnish culture may influence nuclear safety. I'm happy to see so many participants from the Finnish industry indicating the importance of this topic", said STUK Director‑General Petteri Tiippana.
"Experience has demonstrated that nuclear safety can be assured only if people and organisations are able to function appropriately," said NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV. "Human aspects of nuclear safety are as important as any technical issue that may arise in the course of nuclear operations. This workshop explored many dimensions of safety culture. The outcomes from the reflections and group discussions will be captured in a report which can serve as spring board for further exploration by the Finnish nuclear community."
"WANO is pleased to support this forum when nuclear industry leaders from across the full spectrum, from regulators, legislators, and operators engage in a quality discussion on nuclear safety culture," said WANO Chief Executive Officer Peter Prozesky. "Understanding how their prevailing national and organisational circumstances potentially influence safety decision-making can only strengthen our industry."
Background notes for editors
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is an intergovernmental agency which operates under the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD). It facilitates co‑operation among countries with advanced nuclear technology infrastructures to seek excellence in nuclear safety, technology, science, related environmental and economic matters and law. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co‑operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally sound and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It strives to provide authoritative assessments and to forge common understandings on key issues as input to government decisions on nuclear technology policies. NEA membership includes 33 countries that co‑operate through joint research, consensus building among experts and development of best practices.
The NEA created its Division of Radiological Protection and Human Aspects of Nuclear Safety to support its member countries in their efforts to enhance focus and attention on human aspects impacting nuclear safety that have been highlighted as critical elements leading to all past nuclear power plant accidents – including Fukushima Daiichi. This sector also includes issues associated with effective public communication and stakeholder engagement regarding nuclear safety, waste management and related issues. The staff serves the Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) and also work closely with other NEA committees and relevant expert groups in this area, most prevalently the Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA), the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) and the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC).
The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) is a not‑for‑profit international organisation that helps its members maximise the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide. WANO was established in 1989 by the world's nuclear power operators to exchange safety knowledge and operating experience amongst organisations operating commercial nuclear power reactors. WANO's members operate some 460 nuclear units in over 30 countries and areas worldwide. WANO works with its membership to assess, benchmark and improve performance through mutual support, exchange of information and emulation of best practices. For more information on WANO, visit www.wano.info.
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) supervises radiation and nuclear safety in Finland. The purpose of STUK is to protect people, society, the environment and future generations from the detrimental effects of radiation.
A summary report of the forum and its outcomes is in preparation and will be provided online to serve as reference point and training tool on safety culture. It will analyse national influences on safety culture, identify country‑specific traits and practical methods to address challenges, and propose a roadmap to develop best practices.