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Communicating Safety Culture Among Staff

Communication affects many of the attitudes and practices necessary to achieve good performance in nuclear safety. Regular outreach to employees shows the visible commitment by management to openness and accountability. The messages used can convey the care and thoroughness expected by management in completing tasks. Supervisors who interact regularly with staff have more opportunities to clarify and recognize issues that could negatively impact safety.

The IAEA INSAG series provides detailed guidance related to safety culture. In INSAG-4 safety culture is defined as: “that assembly of characteristics and attitudes in organizations and individuals which establishes that, as an overriding priority, nuclear plant safety issues receive the attention warranted by their significance.”

Communication strengthens safety culture by confirming that messages are both received and understood. INSAG-15 explains the drive to explore events for future instruction. By investigating and seeking root causes, timely feedback can be given and remedial actions identified to help others in the organization, or the industry at large, to avoid similar problems.

To achieve this, employees should be encouraged to report even minor concerns.

‘Blame free’ reporting represents the need for managers to treat employees who report near misses with respect and care. Any suggestion that individuals filing reports will be penalized or disciplined by their managers or colleagues will result in a failure to report future incidents.

Communicators can support safety culture by incorporating successful outreach tactics into regular internal activities and raising awareness of effective stakeholder management techniques among internal stakeholder groups.

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