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Peer Review - a potent catalyst for change

At Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi power station, managers had been expending significant time and effort implementing modifications and amending procedures to satisfy new safety regulations to reflect lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Unfortunately, these changes caused an unanticipated degradation of both shutdown safety management and human performance.
A WANO peer review in 2015 revealed these weaknesses and developed a series of related Areas for Improvement (AFIs). As a direct result of this consultative member engagement, station leadership recognised and understood the need for change and enacted a series of positive changes.
The station general manager began by delivering a strong message that nuclear safety is the overriding priority, reminding staff that it should be an intrinsic value guiding Kansai Electric Power Company’s use of nuclear power. In the same message, he emphasised how important the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) process was to the improvement of station performance.
Expectations for managers were re-established. These included clear and accurate assignment of roles to staff, rigorous deadline management, management observations and risk management. Station leadership thoroughly monitored managers’ performance - implementing corrective action when managers failed to meet these expectations.
Conducting management observations was used as a key problem identification tool for line managers. A qualified INPO evaluator and WANO reviewers gave line managers practical training, including coaching during field training. Station leadership also conducted management observations in the field to help managers visualise their expected level of performance. The results were shared with the group, helping to stimulate managers’ engagement by encouraging a healthy culture of peer pressure.
Periodical self-assessments were conducted in the areas of management observation, foreign material exclusion and fire protection. Based on WANO guidelines, these helped to reinforce line managers’ performance.
In the process of this evolution, the plant was supported by Kansai’s corporate office. They passed on advice by qualified INPO and WANO reviewers, established fleet wide procedures and provided information for good practice and proper benchmarking.
As a result of the changes brought about by leaderships’ actions to improve nuclear safety, WANO noted significant improvements in the areas related to  peer review AFIs.
“This accomplishment encourages all personnel working in this station, including me, to be convinced that our efforts to strengthen nuclear safety and industrial safety have been correct,” said Yasuhiko Yoshida, Ohi Station General Manager. “We are making continuous efforts to attain further safety and prepare to resume operation by reducing risks. I would try to make Ohi power station the safest nuclear station in the world, and I believe our efforts have helped to make local and all Japanese people feel confident of the safety and security of Ohi power station.”
Ohi Unit 3 resumed commercial operation in April 2018, and Ohi Unit 4 resumed constant rated thermal power operation in May 2018 - it is expected to resume commercial operation in the summer of 2018.