United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Safety Culture: A Survey of the State-of-the-Art (NUREG-1756)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: December 2001
Date Published: January 2002

Prepared by:
J.N. Sorensen,
Senior Fellow

Prepared for:
Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

This report was prepared for the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards to provide background information on the evolution of the term "safety culture" and the perceived relationship between safety culture and the safety of operations in nuclear power generation and other hazardous technologies. There is a widespread belief that safety culture is an important contributor to the safety of operations. Empirical evidence that safety culture and other management and organizational factors influence operational safety is more readily available for the chemical process industry than for nuclear power plant operations. The commonly accepted attributes of safety culture include good organizational communication, good organizational learning, and senior management commitment to safety. Safety culture may be particularly important in reducing latent errors in complex, well-defended systems. The role of regulatory bodies in fostering strong safety cultures remains unclear, and additional work is required to define the essential attributes of safety culture and to identify reliable performance indicators.

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