Test and Learn: IAEA conducts virtual pilot school on nuclear and radiological leadership for safety

Test and Learn: IAEA conducts virtual pilot school on nuclear and radiological leadership for safety



The links between an organization’s safety culture, leadership and decision-making, as well as the role of IAEA safety standards in providing a robust framework for ensuring high levels of nuclear safety were among the main topics raised during a four-day pilot of a of virtual school for nuclear and nuclear energy radiological guidance for safety.

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The links between an organization’s safety culture, leadership and decision-making, as well as the role of IAEA safety standards in providing a robust framework for ensuring high levels of nuclear safety were among the main topics raised during a four-day pilot of a of virtual school for nuclear and nuclear energy radiological guidance for safety.

The school – for the first time in virtual form – took place from June 28th to July 1st with the participation of 16 young nuclear experts from the entire IAEA Secretariat. The lessons learned from the pilot project will be used to improve the course, which the IAEA will then offer countries in both virtual and face-to-face formats.

The school aims to raise awareness of the role of leadership in nuclear and radiological safety among young to medium-sized professionals in the nuclear field, the safety leaders of the future. Conducted in a traditional physical format for the first time in 2017, the course enables participants to broaden their practical understanding of leadership for safety through interactive exercises and case study analysis, and equips them with tools to use nuclear safety in their day-to-day operations Maintain and improve work.

This school encourages tomorrow’s leaders to promote the safe implementation of peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology, ”said Lydie Evrard, Assistant Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. “It offers great support in raising awareness of the benefits of applying the IAEA safety standards.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hampered international travel, eight training programs were carried out in France, Mexico, India, Turkey, Brazil, Pakistan, Morocco and in January with a total of more than 235 participants from 65 countries.

The virtual version of the school was developed in response to the pandemic by experts including senior operators, regulators and behavioral scientists. Every point in the program refers to the General Safety Requirements of the IAEA. In hands-on exercises called “Challenges During a Nuclear Power Plant Failure”, participants learned how important it is to focus on safety even when getting a job done quickly. They learned how a strong internal safety culture can prevent accidents.

Skills such as good internal and external communication, active listening, encouraging feedback, and openness were highlighted as critical factors for a good safety leader. The participants also learned about the effects of sudden stress on their own performance and how it influences decision-making. They learned the importance of staying calm, following security processes, and quickly informing managers about measures that have been taken to ensure security.

“In an organization, anyone who has a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to safety is a safety leader, regardless of their role in the hierarchy. The goal is for all participants to complete the school with these deeply rooted thoughts, ”said Shahid Mallick, Director of the IAEA Program, Strategy and Coordination Section. “This in-house virtual school provided a useful platform for everyone involved to gain a better understanding of how we can step up our efforts to help countries around the world improve their security leadership.”

A press conference simulation of radioactive material leaking into the environment enabled participants to engage in active role play with stakeholders and highlight the value of factual and consensus-based communication.

The school was originally developed in response to the need for a systemic approach to nuclear safety highlighted in the 2015 IAEA Director General’s report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Rayan Dankar, an IAEA Incident and Emergency Center attendee, said, “I learned a lot about the different steps you can take to become a security leader. I learned a lot from the thoughts and experiences of the experts and participants, about the importance of the IAEA security standards and the importance of open communication and trust to support efforts to strengthen security. “

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