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 Activity name  SC_AIM Safety culture assurance and improvement methods in complex projects
 Project summary  

Despite a long research tradition, empirical studies of culture improvement in the safety field are scarce, especially in comparison to the amount of research on identifying the elements of safety culture or evaluation of safety culture. Safety culture and safety management models and practices have largely focused on single organisations, mainly in the operational phase. It is far from clear how to apply them in the dynamically changing project settings or other transitional phases such as commissioning or decommissioning. The methods that are effective in a project environment may differ from “traditional” methods of safety culture improvement as promoted by e.g. IAEA and WANO. The question is, what should a safety culture improvement and assurance program be like in an “organization” which is in a dynamic state of transition and may involve actors from different companies?


A basic premise of the project is that so far there has been a lot of attention on how to diagnose and evaluate safety culture, but actually not so much on how to improve the safety culture. A second premise is that improvement of safety culture in projects sets some unique requirements due to e.g. multiple organizations interacting, diverse background of personnel, schedules and contract issues etc. The same methods that have been applied in operating power plants may not work. Further, the long supply chains and the licensee’s responsibility to oversee the safety culture of the entire network put more demands on safety culture assurance methods.


The project is planned as a two years' effort (2016-2017) between partners in two Nordic countries: VTT and Tmi Teemu Reiman (Finland) and Royal Institute of Technology, KTH (Sweden). The project has two aims:


  1. To identify and specify methods to improve and facilitate safety culture in complex projects
  2. To identify and specify methods to assure safety culture in complex projects


In the year 2017, we will carry out a follow-up study on the implementation progress of Safety Culture Ambassadors Group. This work provides valuable insight regarding good practices and other experiences of implementing a safety culture improvement method in a growing organization, which is at design phase of the NPP life cycle. The information exchange with other power companies will continue, which full provide further information about safety culture improvement in various organizational contexts. The information exchange partnership is also an opportunity for the power companies to gain information from researchers. Furthermore, three researcher workshops will be held on the topics of safety culture improvement methods, assurance methods and an integrative workshop on the topic of building an adaptive safety culture in the nuclear industry. The findings from these workshops will result in three scientific publications. In addition, new methods for safety culture improvement or assurance will be developed and piloted based on needs identified in collaboration with the case organizations. Finally, the overall project findings from the two-year’s effort will be documented in NKS final report.


 Lead organisation  VTT Technical Research Center of Finland
 Contact person Kaupo Viitanen,, + 358 40 845 7618


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