No technical safety systems can work without the close involvement of people and the surrounding organisation. This is why our regulatory supervision is based on how people work and the fact that quality and safety hinge on people, the specific context and organisation, alongside the technology itself. We always have this perspective when we review all aspects of nuclear power plant operations, from the design and layout of control rooms to the safety culture and management systems.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority supervises how people (Man), Technology and Organisations ('MTO') interact at nuclear facilities. For this reason, we have technical experts in many different fields as well as experts on human behaviour who collaborate in our regulatory supervision. In this way, the Authority can check that these facilities are being maintained, developed and operated at a high level of safety. It is crucial that the people in charge of the facilities work on learning continuously from operational experience, both their own and that of others, provide conditions to work in a safe manner, and that they maintain the safety culture. 

Focusing on management and control

From an MTO perspective, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s regulatory supervision focuses on management and control as well as conducting follow-ups to ensure that the employees at a nuclear facility are provided with the right prerequisites for safe work. We for example investigate whether they comply with their own management system, ensure the right level of professional skills and adequate human and financial resources and also maintain a good level of safety awareness. We also check that the design and layout of control rooms enable good prerequisites for work and that a good system is in place for plant modifications, event investigations and experience feedback. 

During a compliance inspection, we focus on the specific work activity and check that it is being conducted in pursuance of management systems and necessary procedures and instructions, check that responsibilities are clearly defined and that the rules governing authority and decision-making are clear-cut, appropriate and effective. We review documents describing management systems, procedures and instructions. We interview personnel on site at all levels of the organisations about how they conduct their work and their conditions for carrying out work in a safe manner. We perform reviews and inspections to look into the formal systems and how the work is performed. If we assess that the facilities do not comply with the requirements imposed, we take a decision on their drawing up measures and taking the subsequent action.  

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s section for the area of Man-Technology-Organisation provides expert advice to the entire Authority, for instance related to medical care, other occupational work involving radiation, physical protection, nuclear waste and the spent nuclear fuel repository. 

Change management

When a nuclear power plant needs to carry out technological and organisational changes, the senior management must be capable of reliably introducing and implementing the changes in a way that takes into account how people actually work and perform. This presupposes procedures, instructions and routines that are established at the facilities and which ensure that proposed changes and modifications are produced systematically and are reviewed for safety before a change is implemented at a facility.

The facilities must also have access to the professional skills needed to implement a change or modification. An example of this kind of expertise is knowledge in behavioural science possessed by occupational psychologists, organisational scientists and cognitive scientists. It is important for expertise in behavioural science to be present in the planning stage, in the design and throughout the entire process, even while evaluating the change in question. 

Facility work must be safe

The Authority imposes many requirements on facility operations. We for example require that employees are provided with the necessary conditions to carry out work in a safe manner, the availability of sufficient professional skills and staffing, management systems defining requisite procedures and instructions, clearly defined responsibilities and authority, independent safety reviews as well as regular internal audits to ensure that the preconditions are in place for safe operation of facilities. Altogether, these aspects are to culminate in a good safety culture. In addition to this, the facilities have their own safety culture programmes for ongoing work on their respective safety culture.  

We also review large-scale modification projects such as modernisation work and power uprates from an MTO perspective. We may request additional information during different phases of the modification process. However, we review such changes only once they have been notified to the Authority and a safety review has already been performed by the facility.