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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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22/06/2017

IRSN publishes a new report on the cultural aspects of organisations in high risk industries

 

IRSN presents the results of a study carried out by its research laboratory in human and social sciences aimed at defining guidelines for the use of the "culture" and "safety culture" dimensions in safety assessments of nuclear facilities. The different contributions and limitations of the safety culture concept are discussed, and an analysis grid of cultural aspects of risk organisations is provided.

The concept of Safety Culture is a key element of many initiatives aimed at improving the safety of nuclear facilities. In particular, the IAEA has focused its development strategy on taking into account human and organisational factors. In this context, the IRSN has mainly devoted its evaluations and research to theoretical lines arising from ergonomics and the sociology of organisations. Although this orientation has helped to formulate documented assessments, it is necessary to better take into account cultural aspects, because some of these contribute to risk management. They can, for example, be an important part of provisions to promote cooperation between different professions (maintenance and operation, operation and decommissioning, operation and research, etc.), between project organisation and daily organisation (outage management, change implementation, dismantling worksites, etc.), between companies (relations between customers and service providers).

IRSN thus conducted a study aimed at defining guidelines for the use of the "culture" and "safety culture" concepts in safety assessments of nuclear facilities. First, the contributions and limitations of the safety culture concept are identified, leading as a second stage to a review of the main works on culture that have been conducted in anthropology, sociology, management science and ergonomics. These studies show that taking into account cultural aspects can give access to phenomena that are difficult to deal with using other organisation analytical frameworks. On this basis, four analysis plans were defined, which provide a breakdown of the overall "culture" topic: organisational cultures, professional cultures, social cultures and relations, and national cultures. In the fourth part of the document, these analysis plans are used to revisit safety assessments performed in the past. In doing so, the relationship between cultural aspects and safety are specified and the interest in taking them into account is confirmed.

 

Download the report IRSN/PSN/SRDS/SFOHREX n°2017-005 "Addressing Cultural Aspects of Organisations in High Risk Industries” (PDF)

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