Non-technical skills
: A critical evaluation of organisational learning for the UK Nuclear Industry from Aviation and Oil & Gas sectors

  • Agha Ibiam

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The development and application of Non-Technical Skills (NTS) in managing safety in high-tech industries is expected to yield possible results if properly harnessed. Accidents in high-risk organisations are often triggered by human errors, and have been destructive to life, equipment, organisations, and the environment at large. Therefore, urgent attention is needed to reduce the incidence of catastrophic events by guaranteeing that operators in these high-tech industries receive NTS training to deal with and counter risks associated with their tasks. Additionally, isomorphic lessons, organisational learning and risk characterisation are equally important when organisations become learning institutions by encouraging and promoting learning in a practical, methodical and synergistic manner. This involves the entire staff of the organisation in managing safety. As a result, this research revealed that the use of NTS, isomorphic lessons, organisational learning and risk characterisation in managing and improving safety performances are not common features in the nuclear industry. A comparative approach employing critical evaluation is drawn by comparing and cross-examining other industries such as aviation and oil and gas sectors; and if lessons learned in those sectors could be applied in the nuclear industry. Primary and secondary data comprised of 6 activities were used to critically investigate the three sectors, using 4 pillars which are NTS, isomorphic lessons, organisational learning and risk characterisation. The line of inquiries used are (1) 15 interviews; (2) online surveys on the four pillars and the three sector; another survey on impact of Covid-19 on the three sectors (3) review of six examples of accidents/incidents using cross-industry documents; (4) examination of documents from regulators from each sector; and (5) focus groups to test findings for validity. The population researched are safety experts from nuclear, aviation and the oil and gas sectors; while the sample size are nuclear (n=124, 54%); aviation (n=59, 25%) and oil and gas (n=49, 21%). Firstly, untapped opportunities exist for the nuclear industry to further advance and review their frontline training and awareness in NTS and boost the effectiveness of their internal learning capacities. Secondly, the research was designed to identify the value of cross industry benchmarking in safety training using a range of novel created outputs including industry toolkits, indices of industries publications, cross-industry accident analysis. There remains greater scope to share ideas, acknowledge common domain issues and implement better co-operation for shared benefits. Despite these findings this research affirms that good practice and a responsible attitude exists in all industry practitioners engaged in this research, but the minimisation of human agents in systems can equally limit their potential to make positive contributions in emergency scenarios.
    Date of AwardAug 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsLloyd’s Register Foundation
    SupervisorMichael Fitzpatrick (Supervisor), Wayne Harrop (Supervisor) & Augustine Ifelebuegu (Supervisor)

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