Human aspects of nuclear safety


Human aspects of nuclear safety, including organisational factors and a healthy safety culture, reflect the need to address complex, non-technical areas with large impact on the current and potential future uses and regulation of nuclear technology, as well as the increasingly apparent need to address these matters on a cross-cutting and multidisciplinary basis.

The goal of the NEA in this area is to assist member countries in their efforts to enhance focus on human aspects of nuclear safety. This is achieved by improving the understanding and the technical basis for treating elements associated with safety culture, human and organisational factors, and personnel training policies and practices. It also includes public communication and stakeholder engagement regarding nuclear safety, waste management and related issues.


Programme of work

Most of the work in the human aspects of nuclear safety (HANS) is carried out through working groups that meet on a regular basis and under the guidance of three NEA committees whose membership is composed of member countries. These are the Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA), the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) and the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC).


Safety culture

Safety culture can be defined as the characteristics and attitudes in organisations and individuals that ensures that safety is a top priority and protection and safety issues receive the attention warranted by their significance The regulatory body’s own safety culture and the way it interacts with licensees, political/governmental entities and other stakeholders have a bearing on the safety culture of the wider interconnected system.

CNRA – Working Group on Safety Culture (WGSC)

Public communication

Efficiency and effectiveness in decision making by governmental authorities is increasingly dependent upon public trust. Public communication plays an important role in ensuring that optimal and informed decisions are taken when principles of openness and transparency are followed. The NEA focuses on methods of disseminating information and creating a dialogue with stakeholders and facilitates sharing experiences in the field of public communication among member countries. The work in this area also encompasses assessing developments, procedures and achievements with regards to effectively communicating both with reference to the public and other stakeholders.

CNRA – Working Group on Public Communication of Nuclear Regulatory Organisation (WGPC)

Human and organisational factors

Human and organisational factors (HOF) is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the complex and dynamic interactions between humans, technology and related organisation(s). Specific factors include human capabilities and limitations, work organisation and job design, procedures, the design of technology, the physical design of the work environment, the human-machine interface and the management system and the broader environment, to name a few. The understanding and treatment of these HOF within the nuclear industry are essential to support the continued safety performance of nuclear installations and improve the effectiveness of regulatory practices.

Ongoing work in this area deals with issues such as lessons learnt from the implementation of post-Fukushima actions, and key elements and principles of considering the interactions between humans, technology and organisations. Other activities have been concluded on topics such as integrated system validation and human performance and intervention under extreme conditions.

CSNI – Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF)

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement contributes to promoting enhanced nuclear safety through the process by which an organisation actively involves people who may be affected by the decisions it makes or can influence the implementation of its decisions. It is a major challenge to obtain stakeholder confidence when accounting for socio-political situations, and it requires taking an integral approach and successful collaboration on public communication. Many relevant stakeholders need to be informed and engaged in making any decision regarding whether, when and how to implement nuclear safety measures, and radioactive waste management solutions.

RWMC – Forum on Stakeholder Confidence (FSC)

Other initiatives related to human aspects


Last reviewed: 13 December 2019


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