Safety culture

Safety culture is the assembly of characteristics and attitudes in organizations and individuals which establishes that, as an overriding priority, protection and safety issues receive the attention warranted by their significance.

The concept of "safety culture" first appeared in 1986 in the process of analyzing the causes and consequences of the Chornobyl accident, conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The lack of a safety culture was acknowledged as one of the causes of the disaster.

The causes of accidents are the human factor

Experience in the operation of nuclear power plants shows that the causes of accidents and incidents are somehow related to human behaviour (human factor), namely their attitude to safety-related issues. Therefore, the focus of the NPP management is, first of all, human resources, style, and methods of management as well as the psychosocial climate in the production teams.

All staff, starting from the top administrative level, are involved in the process of safety culture development. There are standing safety culture committees at the power plants, which are collegial bodies coordinating the activities of the nuclear power plant units in terms of maintaining and improving the safety culture of personnel.

Safety of NPPs

Particular attention is paid to the formation of personal responsibility and commitment to the safety culture of all those whose activities affect the safety of nuclear power plants. The power plant's policy is to ensure that staff are critical of their actions and do not tolerate negligence in safety-related issues. NPP administrations seek to create conditions in which employees are not afraid to report their own mistakes. This will prevent them from happening again.

The OKO discrepancy detection and resolution system has been implemented and successfully applied at NPPs. It gives each employee not only the right but also the practical opportunity to directly participate in the maintenance of operational order by recording comments and suggestions in a central database.

Safety culture training

Basic staff training programs include sections on safety culture. Educational and methodical materials have been developed. They are used to train different categories of workers. Mandatory training in safety culture is also provided to newly hired employees. At the unit level of nuclear power plants, peer reviews have been organized.

Self-assessment of the safety culture of NPP units is carried out regularly according to programs developed taking into account the IAEA recommendations. Based on its results, the state of safety culture in the units is clarified, and if necessary, corrective measures are developed and implemented.

NPP specialists are actively involved in international conferences on safety culture, which Energoatom holds every two years. Their main goal is to share experiences, summarize the outcomes of the safety culture upgrading, as well as identify areas for further improvement in this field.