charge to the committee, this chapter and the following one focus on system safety.


The steps taken by the nuclear power and other safety-critical industries to improve system safety are reminiscent of the challenges presently confronting the offshore drilling industry. Although there are significant differences between the oil and gas industry and other industries (as discussed in this chapter), the safety framework and perspectives developed by those other industries can provide useful insights. According to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, an organization has good potential for safety when it has developed a safety culture that shows a willingness and an ability to understand risks and manage activities so that safety is taken into account (Oedewald et al. 2011). Other industries, regulatory agencies, trade associations, and professional associations have also addressed safety culture (for example, see Reason 1997; U.S. NRC 2009, 2011; NEI 2009; CCPS 2005; IAEA 1992).

The U.K. Health and Safety Executive defines safety culture as “the product of individual group values, attitudes and perceptions, competencies and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management.” Creating safety culture means instilling attitudes and procedures in individuals and organizations ensuring that safety issues are treated as high priority, too. A facility fostering strong safety culture would encourage employees to cultivate a questioning attitude and a rigorous and prudent approach to all aspects of their jobs and to set up necessary open communication between line workers and middle and upper management (Meshkati 1999).

An effective safety culture embodies the following generic traits:2

Leadership safety values and actions: Safety is treated as a complex and systemic phenomenon. It is also a genuine value that is reflected in the decision making and daily activities of an organization in managing risks and preventing accidents.

Personal accountability: All individuals take personal responsibility for safety and contribute to overall safety.

Problem identification and resolution: Issues potentially affecting safety are readily identified, fully evaluated, and promptly addressed and corrected.

Work processes: The process of planning and controlling work activities is implemented so that system safety is maintained. The most serious safety issues get the greatest attention.


2 The traits are adapted from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Safety Culture Policy Statement (U.S. NRC 2011).

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