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Can Safety Culture Be This Important?

[+] Author Affiliations
Dorian S. Conger

Conger & Elsea, Inc., Atlanta, GA

Paper No. ICONE22-31241, pp. V003T06A058; 12 pages
  • 2014 22nd International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • Volume 3: Next Generation Reactors and Advanced Reactors; Nuclear Safety and Security
  • Prague, Czech Republic, July 7–11, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4593-6
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Organizational culture has been extensively studied since the 1950’s. The research consistently demonstrates that an organization’s culture has a direct and immediate impact on the behaviors of the people working within the organization. For many years, the culture of an organization was not a part of the evaluation process when performance deficiencies or incidents were evaluated. In some instances, organizations were even told specifically that such ‘soft’ issues were not to be considered. Now, it seems that the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction. Organizations are encouraged and sometimes even required to consider safety culture contributions to performance problems and accidents/incidents. Few systematic methods exist to evaluate the contributions of safety culture to incident and accidents as part of a root cause analysis. This paper explores several questions related to the importance of safety culture and how it can be evaluated and changed for the betterment of the organization(s) involved. Some of the critical questions are: 1) How is it possible that safety culture has become so important in evaluating the performance of an organization? 2) Whether in terms of deficiencies or accident/incidents — can safety culture be reliably measured, particularly during a root cause analysis? 3) If it can be measured, how can it be changed? 4) Does organizational culture change have to take years to accomplish?

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Safety



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