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Open for Registration: IAEA Conference on Safety Culture - 30 Years After Chernobyl

The IAEA is organizing an International Conference on Human and Organizational Aspects of Assuring Nuclear Safety — Exploring 30 Years of Safety Culture from 22 to 26 February 2016 at its headquarters in Vienna. This conference aims to provide a unique platform to share best practices, expertise and experience in the areas of safety culture, that includes human and organizational factors. Interested applicants can register to attend the week-long event through the online registration process available on the conference website.

The importance that the IAEA places on nuclear safety can easily be gauged by the IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Juan Carlos Lentijo’s reference to the issue: “Human and organizational factors are major contributors to nuclear safety, whilst the promotion of a well-established safety culture in the organizational environment is essential for defining and implementing sustainable safety programmes, especially taking into account that safety is a dynamic concept.”

The term ‘safety culture,’ originally introduced in the report on the post-accident review of the Chernobyl accident, has come to be increasingly used to explain the importance of individual and collective commitment to safety at all levels.

“Promoting the necessity for a robust ‘safety first’ approach amongst operators and regulators of nuclear facilities as well as organizations dealing with nuclear materials is the primary goal of the conference,” said Helen Rycraft, senior safety officer at the IAEA and one of the scientific secretaries of the conference. Representatives from Member States will have a unique opportunity to receive technical guidance on how to practically enhance their organizations' safety culture.

Emphasizing the role of safety culture in the nuclear industry, Fred Dermarkar, President and CEO of the CANDU Owners Group, and one of the speakers at this conference, explains that “the IAEA report on Fukushima identifies significant lessons to be learned in the field of human and organizational factors, including safety culture and human resilience. This conference provides an excellent and unique opportunity to engage with leaders in this field, including leaders responsible for the operation of nuclear installations, as well as leaders in the science of human and organizational factors. The conference has the right ingredients to contribute to transforming the insights from the Fukushima report into practical actions that will improve nuclear safety worldwide.”

The IAEA organized its last international conference on safety culture in Brazil 2002, at a time when a nuclear industry revival was taking shape with a number of Member States actively considering building new power reactors or extending the life of existing reactors. The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011 slowed this resurgence in a number of countries.

At the same time, the Fukushima Daiichi accident placed renewed emphasis on fostering a nuclear safety and security culture by implementing a systemic approach that takes into account the complex and dynamic interaction between human, technical and organizational factors. All this will need to be proactively managed to assure safe performance. In short, the Fukushima Daiichi accident has raised further the importance to detect potential safety culture weaknesses.

The deadline for submitting synopses and applying for grants is 30 October 2015.

For information or queries on the February 2016 conference, email: Safetyculture2016 AT iaea.org.