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New ONR guidance on safety leadership

One of our members, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), has published new guidance on safety leadership to assist its inspectors in making regulatory judgement and decisions.

The ONR guide sets out a framework of safety leadership behaviours structured on the SAFER Leadership Model developed by academics Jennifer Wong, E Kevin Kelloway, and Daniel Makhan. This model establishes that an effective safety leader:

  • Speaks on safety.
  • Acts safely at work.
  • Focuses on maintaining safety standards.
  • Engages others in safety initiatives.
  • Recognises individuals who adhere to safety

ONR’s new guide also contain guidance on the role of senior leadership in setting safety standards and goals, the management system arrangements for encouraging effective safety leadership behaviours and discouraging poor safety leadership behaviours, and the assessment of safety leadership.

Leadership plays a key role in securing good safety outcomes. Investigations into accidents and disasters across all major hazard industries have consistently found the actions or inactions of leaders to be contributory factors. In the nuclear industry, safety leadership behaviours were found to be contributing factors to the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Davis Besse and Fukushima Daiichi.

Dr. Mike Richardson, ONR’s Professional Lead for Human and Organisational Capability, said: “In 2020 we contacted Kevin Kelloway at The University of St Mary’s in Nova Scotia, Canada, to hear more about his work developing the SAFER Leadership Model.

“Following this we set out to identify the safety leadership behaviours codified in sources of relevant good practice and studied the safety leadership literature to understand how best to represent the five elements of the SAFER Leadership Model for the UK’s nuclear context.

“After publishing our guidance we received feedback that it may be of interest to other high hazard sectors and we recognised that there was an opportunity to make the guidance more widely available through our membership of the Hazards Forum.

“In June 2022 Kevin Kelloway spoke to ONR inspectors about the SAFER Leadership Model and he kindly gave us permission to share the recording of this session with the Hazards Forum so that they could make it more widely available.

“We hope your find the video to be a valuable resource in your efforts to improve safety leadership in your organisations and industry sectors.”

The guide can be accessed via the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s website here: Safety Leadership Technical Assessment Guide.

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