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ONR contributes to international good practice on leadership and safety culture

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) showcased the results of key work at the world’s largest annual conference for nuclear regulation, exploring how regulators and licence holders influence each other’s leadership and safety culture.

Marc McBride, ONR’s Deputy Professional Lead on Leadership and Management for Safety, explained the findings at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) in Maryland, United States.

This annual conference brings together thousands of participants from across the globe including regulators, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, academia, industry, media and members of the public, to discuss a broad range of topics in the fields of nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Nuclear Inspector and Chief Executive Officer, also participated in the session’s panel discussion alongside other senior colleagues from the US, Japan, Canada, Slovakia and the Netherlands, who all offered their perspectives on safety culture and leadership.

During the last three years, Marc McBride has led a taskforce for the Nuclear Energy Agency’s (NEA) Working Group on Leadership and Safety Culture (WGLSC) focusing on how the safety culture of a regulator impacts that of its licensees, as well as the influence of licensees on regulators.

This informed an industry model to support regulators in adopting an accountability-oriented and enabling approach for safety, recently published in an NEA report: The Mutual Impact of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies and License Holders from a Safety Culture Perspective.

The WGLSC also explored effective leadership characteristics, competencies and behaviours in regulatory bodies with a healthy safety culture, producing a five-step programme for embedding these characteristics within an organisation published in an accompanying report: Practices for Enhancing Leadership for Safety in Nuclear Regulatory Bodies.

ONR has recently been involved in work to strengthen both its internal organisational culture and the culture of the wider nuclear industry, for which it has collaborated with the Alliance Manchester Business School.

On the WGLSC’s work, Marc said: "I am heartened by the value the international panel of regulatory leaders placed on the two reports recently launched by the NEA.

“The reports have been produced by practitioners, for practitioners, and provide a foundation for regulatory bodies to reflect and strengthen their own leadership and culture, as well as having a positive impact on the culture of the industry they regulate.

“This is especially important given the changing industry landscape and the new people and skills that will be needed to address future challenges."