Managing safety culture in design activities: evidence from the Nordic nuclear power domain
Paper in proceedings, 2014
The importance of safe and functional design is growing with the new nuclear builds across the globe. The existing literature on design emphasises the typical tensions of design activity but pays little attention to their relation to safety. The functional requirements can be met in many different ways, some safer than others. This conceptual paper aims at understanding how designers as humans affect safety in the nuclear industry. Rather than merely evaluating the quality of the design outcome, we argue for the need to study design processes from organizational perspective as they pose a variety of nuclear safety implications. We carried out a follow up study and content analysis of interview data with designers in the Nordic nuclear domain to shed more light on the specific cultural features, assumptions and norms that guide designers’ work processes. These cultural assumptions seem to be well in line with the six safety culture criteria of the DISC model. Managing the overall design project and understanding the big picture is seen as one of the main issues as the networked aspects of the design work are gradually acknowledged. This paper provides new insights on managing overall system safety and thus safety culture in design, suggesting that organizational culture can be systematically affected by management and organizational solutions.
nuclear power industry