Safety Culture Assurance and Improvement Methods in Complex Projects – Intermediate Report from the NKS-R SC_AIM
Kaupo Viitanen, Nadezhda Gotcheva, Carl Rollenhagen,
A good safety culture is an essential ingredient for ensuring safety in the nuclear industry. The predominant approaches for safety culture are based on the assumption of stable and relatively homogeneous organizations, which often does not apply to contemporary project-oriented and turbulent environments. This study aims to identify and specify safety culture assurance and improvement methods for project environments.
A variety of approaches and practical methods for safety culture improvement was identified in the literature. Based on their apparent objectives, the methods were classified into the following groups: organizational structures, direct behavioural modification, interaction and communication, commitment and participation, training, promotion and selection. The literature review did not reveal methods intended specifically for project environments or guidelines for tailoring the existing ones to suit project environment. Further review of the literature concerning project environments revealed a multitude of project-specific challenges and boundary conditions in the domains of time, team, task and context that can potentially influence safety culture assurance and improvement.
Three empirical case studies in Nordic nuclear industry organizations were conducted. In the first case study, which focused on the use of safety culture ambassador group, it was found that this method can influence safety culture through multiple mechanisms and that the flexibility of this method can potentially rectify some of the challenges posed by project environment, or even benefit from them. Another case study focused on a safety-oriented project management seminar and showed the potential of this method in influencing safety culture through providing a forum for dialogue between different stakeholders. Finally, information exchange with experts provided additional insight into the current challenges and opportunities of safety culture work in projects. As a result of the theoretical and empirical work, a preliminary framework for evaluating the applicability of safety culture assurance and improvement methods was developed.