Throughout the nuclear energy community, organisations strive to achieve and maintain high levels of nuclear safety as their first priority. Years of experience confirm that a healthy safety culture is necessary to achieve optimal safety performance in any organisation. As part of its efforts to support its membership in their endeavours to focus attention on human aspects impacting nuclear safety, the NEA held a Joint Learning Forum co-organised by its Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF) and Working Group on Safety Culture (WGSC) on 26 October 2020.
The forum brought together over 80 participants to discuss safety culture in nuclear facilities and in other high-reliability industries - such as the aviation industry. The event facilitated an exchange of experiences, knowledge and insights on current safety culture research and practices. It also allowed experts from different NEA groups with similar mandates to identify areas of future work and co-operation.
Forum participants agreed that safety culture is not a static, universal concept but continues to evolve, and noted that human behaviour remains important no matter how much technology advances. “There are many people in the nuclear community who recognise that there is a lot that we can do to make nuclear facilities safe: we can add design features, we can do a lot of things to improve the operation of plants and make them safer. But the hardest thing to fix are the people who operate the plant,” noted the NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV.
The forum revealed that nuclear community can learn much from other industries, including the importance of the interface between the regulators, licensees and operators. These varying perspectives are valuable in identifying important and integral aspects of safety culture.
Forum participants also acknowledged the leadership of Ms Suzanne Dolecki, the outgoing chair of the NEA Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF) who has led the group for 6 years and initiated the WGHOF learning forums.