Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Decisions….Decisions

Safety Culture Performance Measures

Developing forward looking performance measures for safety culture remains a key challenge today and is the logical next step following the promulgation of the NRC’s policy statement on safety culture.  The need remains high as safety culture issues continue to be identified by the NRC subsequent to weaknesses developing in the safety culture and ultimately manifesting in traditional (lagging) performance indicators.

Current practice has continued to rely on safety culture surveys which focus almost entirely on attitudes and perceptions about safety.  But other cultural values are also present in nuclear operations - such as meeting production goals - and it is the rationalization of competing values on a daily basis that is at the heart of safety culture.  In essence decision makers are pulled in several directions by these competing priorities and must reach answers that accord safety its appropriate priority.

Our focus is on safety management decisions made every day at nuclear plants; e.g., operability, exceeding LCO limits, LER determinations, JCOs, as well as many determinations associated with problem reporting, and corrective action.  We are developing methods to “score” decisions based on how well they balance competing priorities and to relate those scores to inference of safety culture.  As part of that process we are asking our readers to participate in the scoring of decisions that we will post each week - and then share the results and interpretation.  The scoring method will be a more limited version of our developmental effort but should illustrate some of the benefits of a decision-centric view of safety culture.

Look in the right column for the links to Score Decisions.  They will take you to the decision summaries and score cards.  We look forward to your participation and welcome any questions or comments.

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