SafePhase: Safety culture challenges in design, construction, installation and commissioning phases of large nuclear power projects

Nadezhda Gotcheva, Pia Oedewald

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    Different lifecycle phases of a nuclear power plant present new human-technology-organization challenges to regulators and licensees. Organizational processes and practices that have evolved in one phase of development might be dysfunctional for the next phase, and the definition of "good safety culture" in practice might be unclear. The objective of the SafePhase study is to improve the understanding of safety culture challenges facing regulators and power companies in different phases of large-scale nuclear power projects. The study utilized relevant literature and international experience on challenges in design, construction, installation and commissioning phases. Background information was provided by the interviews conducted at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. Some experiences concerning decommissioning were also reviewed, although this was beyond the scope of the study. The findings indicated that organizational challenges in the design phase are related to the intangible nature of nuclear safety, which may lead to shifting the focus to paperwork and a limited sense of responsibility for the end-product and overall plant safety. Design in the nuclear industry is a slow process; designers are often involved in many projects at the same time, which hinders their capability to concentrate continuously on any of them. In major modernizations and new build projects the entire design process can take years, during which staff turnover is likely and thus knowledge transfer and continuity are also challenged. The main issues in the construction and installation phases refer to project management in a complex multinational network and management of safety culture in a dynamic context of temporary workers, when nuclear hazards are not yet present. Special challenges in these phases are ensuring high quality in the long supply chains of the manufacturing and construction work, in which economic constraints cause pressure; also specific knowledge on nuclear safety principles and risks is insufficient. Organizational challenges in the commissioning phase are not only related to time pressure as the end of the project is approaching; these challenges are also related to the clarity and transfer of roles and responsibilities, as well as preparedness for the unexpected and for possible emergencies with regard to the nuclear fuel loading stage. Overall, the SafePhase project indicated the importance of understanding organizational characteristics of each nuclear lifecycle phase, which present specific safety culture challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherSwedish Radiation Safety Authority SSM
    Number of pages48
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesSSM Rapport


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