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Integrated Management System Harmonizes Radiation Safety, Security Objectives


The virtual workshop on radiation safety and security of radioactive material facilitated the development of integrated management systems (IMS) for regulatory bodies. (Photo: C. Villareal Silva/IAEA)

"Todo está bajo control. (Everything is under control.)” These were the closing words of the last of four scenarios of an audio exercise played at a workshop on the radiation safety and security of radioactive material, delivered in Spanish. The simulation focused on the safe and secure supply of radioactive material and illustrated situations that exemplified the function of leaders and management and the attributes of a safety and security culture.

While nuclear safety deals with preventing exposure to radiation, nuclear security focuses on preventing the use of radioactive material for malicious acts. Both safety and security share the objective to protect people and the environment, and when safety and security measures are implemented in an integrated manner, they can complement the integrity of each other without compromise.

“When you apply security measures – unless you are careful – you may prevent safety actions, and vice versa. It is important to ensure a decision does not have a negative impact on either safety or security,” said Manuel Recio, IAEA Senior Radiation Safety Specialist. “It is important to integrate people and systems of different areas in a harmonious way.”

The exercise was part of a two-week virtual workshop hosted by the IAEA in March for Latin American IAEA Member States. The workshop, a first of its kind to combine safety and security, facilitated the development, establishment and maintenance of integrated management systems (IMS) for regulatory bodies, aligned with IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance. “An integrated management system within the regulatory authority is of great importance since it allows the fulfilment of goals and objectives in an efficient and effective way,” said Iralda Ramos, Head of the Regulatory Authority of Ecuador, who took part in the workshop. “This is achieved through the establishment of processes within an integrated system and the unification of communication and training methodologies of all the members of the regulatory authority.”

The workshop was an activity of an IAEA project, known as the Regulatory Infrastructure Development Project, funded by the Canadian government in Latin America and the Caribbean, which supports countries in establishing or enhancing their national regulatory infrastructure for radiation safety and for security of radioactive material. The workshop combined safety and security because “most countries in the region have the same regulatory body for both and, therefore, they need to establish management systems that give effective solutions that simultaneously meet the safety and security objectives of their organization,” said Luisa Aniuska Betancourt Hernandez, IAEA Nuclear Security Officer.

In addition to 25 learning modules covering areas such as change management, integration, graded approach and continuous improvement, the workshop’s programme included four practical exercises and two debates. Groups deliberated the role and responsibility of senior management and the benefits and challenges of establishing an IMS. The programme was designed to maximize participants’ interaction to experience the benefits of an integrated management system themselves, Recio said.

The workshop was attended by 41 participants – 17 men and 24 women – representing 13 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. They were divided into three tiers – senior management, management and specialists involved in the operation of a regulatory body. Each session of the workshop targeted specific tiers.

During the workshop, 25 learning modules were presented, covering topics such as culture and change management. Though there are different approaches and cultures to safety and security, they are complementary and share the same goal – to protect people and the environment.

Promoting teamwork

In one exercise, participants from all tiers worked together to complete tasks as they moved along a virtual treasure map, fostering cooperation within and among the teams. “Development and implementation of the IMS requires teamwork; all members of the department must and can contribute to the IMS,” said Marco Munive, Head of Inspection Department of the National Authority in the Peruvian Institute for Nuclear Energy and workshop attendee. “It promotes leadership and continuous improvement of processes, activities and tasks, managing to harmonize the evaluation criteria of safety and security.”

At the start and conclusion of the workshop, representatives of Argentina, Cuba, Peru and Spain shared their experience of having an IMS in operation, giving participants first-hand insight to how IMS fits into the operator's and regulator’s systems. “The workshop allowed us to have a clearer and more concrete idea about the IMS and, thereby, visualize where we are and where we have to go,” said Erika Herrera of the Radiation Protection Unit of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health. “After the workshop, I managed to identify that we already have a part of the ‘path’ developed; what is lacking is to systematize it and integrate it.”

The IAEA will host additional IMS workshops under the RIDP for African countries this year, in English and French.

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