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."

Source: Nuclear Energy Agency