What is nuclear safety culture?

The culture of nuclear safety is defined as the core values and behaviors that result from a collective commitment of leaders and individuals to emphasize safety over competing objectives to ensure the protection of people and the environment. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) defines nuclear safety culture as the core values and behaviors that result from a collective commitment of leaders and individuals to emphasize safety over competing objectives to ensure the protection of people and the environment. The NRC recognizes that it is important for all organizations that conduct or oversee regulated activities to establish and maintain a positive safety culture commensurate with the safety and security importance of their activities and the nature and complexity of their organizations and functions. The following areas describe the NRC's safety culture policy, oversight, disclosure materials, and other information related to safety culture activities in the NRC.

Establishing a strong culture of safety and security is one of the fundamental management principles for an organization dealing with radioactive materials. This culture influences the structure and style of the organization, as well as the attitudes, approaches and engagement of people at all levels of the organization. Safety aims to prevent accidents; safety aims to prevent intentional acts that could damage the installation or cause the theft of nuclear materials. Traits of a Healthy Nuclear Safety Culture describes the essential traits and attributes of a healthy nuclear safety culture, with the goal of creating a framework for open discussion and continuous evolution of safety culture throughout the commercial nuclear power industry.

Similarly, the IAEA defines a strong safety culture as the “set of characteristics, attitudes and behaviors of individuals, organizations and institutions that serves as a means to support and improve nuclear safety. This report by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) of the IAEA describes the concept of 'Safety Culture' in relation to the safety of nuclear power plants in relation to both organizations and individuals involved in nuclear energy activities. In-depth analyses of a range of radiation and nuclear accidents have shown that weaknesses in either culture of safety and security (or both) were one of the main root causes of accidents.