Go to top of page

Case study 4: Safety Culture Assessment

Safety culture refers to an organisation’s attitudes and values when it comes to risk and safety. A well-functioning safety culture is one in which safety is considered a priority. An organisation’s safety culture is reflected in the core values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours at all levels of the organisation. This is important as positive safety culture can significantly reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace by promoting a culture of safe operations.

In October 2019, in an effort to improve our understanding of our own safety culture, ARPANSA conducted its first agency-wide safety culture self-assessment following a smaller pilot assessment in March 2019.

The assessment was based on best practice methodologies promoted by the International Atomic Energy Agency using a customised safety culture maturity model. The model was based on work from the Nuclear Energy Agency, and was prepared in consultation with a subsidiary of the Belgium Nuclear Regulator, Bel V.

The assessment consisted of a perception survey provided to all staff, followed by interviews and focus group discussions as well as workplace observations and document reviews.

Safety culture was assessed on a five-point scale: pathological, bureaucratic, individual commitment, cooperative, and holistic. Pathological sees risk as inevitable and someone else’s problem, and holistic safety is the best practice approach encompassing technological, human and organisation aspects of safety.

Our results showed that ARPANSA has a positive safety culture with results ranging between ‘individual commitment’ and ‘cooperative’ maturity levels. The assessment found that staff are individually committed to our mission and work cooperatively together to achieve safe outcomes. Some areas for improvement were identified and will be strengthened as part of ARPANSA’s continuous improvement program.

ARPANSA’s self-assessment provide a useful example to our regulated entities and other stakeholders of how a safety culture assessment can be undertaken. Through its safety culture, ARPANSA strives to encourage appropriate and demonstrable attention to safety.

The complete safety culture report can be found at https://www.arpansa.gov.au/regulation-and-licensing/regulation/regulatory-integrity/safety-culture-assessment