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Contemporary Approaches to Safety Culture: Lessons From Developing a Regulatory Oversight Approach

Abstract of the technical paper/presentation presented at:
International Conference on Human and Organizational Aspects of Assuring Nuclear Safety – Exploring 30 Years of Safety Culture
February 22–26, 2016

Prepared by:
Kathleen Heppell-Masys, Victor Goebel
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment; to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public.

In the late 1990s, the CNSC conducted research into an organization and management (O&M) assessment method. Based on this, it then conducted O&M assessments at all Canadian nuclear power plants as well as additional assessments of nuclear research and uranium mine and mills. Results of these assessments were presented to licensees and used to inform their ongoing actions related to safety culture. Additional safety culture outreach and oversight activities gave licensees opportunities to develop effective safety culture assessment methods, to share best practices across industry, and to strive for continual organizational improvement.

Recent changes to the CSA Group management system standard have resulted in the inclusion of requirements associated with safety culture and human performance. Representatives from several sectors of Canada’s nuclear industry, as well as participants from regulators such as the CNSC, took part in the development of this consensus standard. Specifically, these requirements focus on monitoring and understanding safety culture, integrating safety into all of management system requirements, committing workers to adhere to the management system and supporting excellence in workers’ performance.

The CNSC is developing a regulatory document on safety culture, which includes key concepts applicable to all licensees, specific self-assessment requirements, and additional guidance for nuclear power plants. Developing a regulatory document on safety culture requires consultation and fact-finding at the national and international levels. It also includes active dialogue among all stakeholders on developing effective methods to achieve desired results across a wide range of licensed activities and organizations.

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