Safety Culture Paramount After Fukushima, NRC Chairman Says

"We believe that by weaving the lessons learned from Fukushima into nearly all of our regulatory activities, we are ensuring their long-term sustainability," NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said Sept. 17.

Allison Macfarlane, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said safety culture is a key lesson of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan and told an international audience at the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual General Conference in Vienna, Austria, that it is important to avoid focusing on planning for a single type of accident.

"We must remember that natural hazards come in many forms," she said, according to a transcript posted at www.nrc.gov. "We should not focus on planning for the next 'expected' accident, but rather have measures in place to address a variety of permutations. Our focus on external events must continue to be broad to make nuclear reactors worldwide as safe as possible," Macfarlane said.

"The establishment of strong safety culture principles by operators is only part of the issue," she said. "It is critically important for all countries to have strong inspection and enforcement programs with transparent processes and objective criteria. Workers in the nuclear industry need a questioning attitude and an environment in which they feel free to raise safety concerns. I view this as a challenge that the nuclear regulatory community is facing collectively. In the United States, we have not only incorporated a safety culture assessment into our oversight program, but we are also bound by broader legislative requirements, like provisions to protect 'whistleblowers' so that individuals feel they can report on safety concerns and violations without jeopardizing their careers. Without clear regulatory and legislative criteria, it is difficult to understand how safety culture can be effectively overseen. I say this because, even with all of these provisions in place, safety culture is still a challenge for the United States to promote and assess.

"As we move forward in the evolution of our nuclear safety culture, we must address that the fact that the majority of post-Fukushima activities were placed in special categories. In the period immediately following Fukushima, this approach made the most sense. In the United States, for example, we established a task force to address the impacts of the accident on our domestic program, and then a special Fukushima-related directorate to implement the ensuing recommendations. The NRC is now beginning to transition these Fukushima lessons-learned programs from special, segregated actions back to the offices that handle these matters on a routine basis. Far from minimizing these activities’ importance, this approach will ensure that the lessons we have learned are fully integrated into our regulatory work in the United States. We believe that by weaving the lessons learned from Fukushima into nearly all of our regulatory activities, we are ensuring their long-term sustainability, and encourage our international colleagues to do the same."

A geologist, Macfarlane became NRC’s chairman in July 2012. According to an NRC news release, while in Vienna she will sign bilateral agreements that contribute to sharing global nuclear safety expertise. Mexico, Switzerland, Jordan, Korea, and Turkey will sign these agreements with the United States.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue