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Introduction

The provision of energy to meet the needs of society is a pressing issue today. Many of the
worlds non-renewable resources such as coal, oil and gas are limited in supply. From the
1970s onwards, the UK was relatively protected by the discovery and exploitation of North
Sea oil and gas. This increased supply benefited UK citizens and met more of their energy
needs. For a short time oil and gas were no longer as scarce as before the discoveries.
However, this supply will also run out one day. The UK government is therefore seeking to
develop other fuel supply channels. The problem the government faces is being too
dependent on foreign suppliers. This involves a real risk of having to pay excessive prices to
provide energy for homes and businesses. The government is actively encouraging the
development of alternative fuels such as wind power and wave power.
Another alternative is nuclear energy. Other countries rely on nuclear energy. France supplies
over 80% of its energy in this way. The UK government is currently exploring the possibility of
developing modern nuclear plants on some of its existing nuclear energy sites. However, it
must first make sure that all of the old sites are cleaned up in a safe and efficient way. The
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is the public sector body responsible for this.
A public sector body is appointed by the government to operate in the public interest. This
means working for the benefit of society as a whole. It is accountable for its actions to a
government minister and to Parliament. Any work undertaken must meet government
requirements for safety and the efficient use of resources.
NDA is the owner of a number of nuclear sites and facilities. These include Sellafield in
Cumbria, Dounreay in Scotland and the original fleet of Magnox Power Stations. The
mission of the NDA is to deliver safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable solutions to the
challenge of nuclear clean-up and waste management. In practice this involves:
never compromising on safety or security
taking full account of social and environmental responsibilities
always seeking value for money for taxpayers
actively engaging with stakeholders.
This mission requires that the nuclear industry recruits the right people to work in this sector.
The NDA is the driver in securing a flexible and sustainable world-class workforce for the
next 100 years.
The nuclear industry has to be the safest place to work as there is no room for error. This
demands that employers and employees maintain the highest safety practices of any industry
in the world. Recently there has been a low uptake of science, technology, maths and
engineering at a higher level within schools and at universities. This means that there are
fewer people in the market with the required skills.
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Meeting responsibilities
to stakeholders
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CURRICULUM TOPICS
Stakeholders
Business legislation
Health and safety
Employee protection
GLOSSARY
Mission: statements that show
what the role of the organisation is,
where the organisation intends to
go and how it is going to get there.
Stakeholders: individuals and
groups with an interest in an
organisation and the decisions it
makes.
Sustainable: able to continue
over a period of time.
Market: the supply of people in a
particular country or area who are
able and willing to work.
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Like any organisation, NDA has a responsibility to respond to its stakeholders interests. It
works closely with all stakeholder groups, carrying out extensive consultation exercises with all
parties in order to create a world-class industry with safety paramount. This case study
focuses on how the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority listens to and makes sure that it
meets legal and other responsibilities to its stakeholders.
Stakeholders and business legislation
The main objective of the NDA is to take responsibility for the decommissioning and clean-up
of the UKs public sector nuclear legacy. Decommissioning is the final phase in the life cycle
of a nuclear installation. The term refers to all activities from the shutdown and removal of
nuclear material (fissile) to the environmental restoration of the site.
Once a nuclear facility has been decommissioned, usually because it is no longer efficient in
providing energy, the site needs to be cleaned-up to remove any possible nuclear
contamination. Work on nuclear sites is carried out by specialist companies hired on behalf of
NDA. These can also sub-contract to deliver efficient work programmes. NDA manages the
contracts to ensure consistency in following safety regulations and efficiency. NDA also works
with a range of stakeholders. A stakeholder is an individual or group with an interest in the
work of the organisation or who is affected by the organisation.
NDA works within a framework of business legislation to meet stakeholders needs. For
example, any company working for NDA is issued a contract which is subject to contract law.
This is an exchange of promises between two or more parties that the law will enforce.
Legislation in the UK governing safety at work and employment comes from three main sources:
UK law is influenced by European Union laws and business activities must comply with EU
regulations. The most important law affecting NDA is the Energy Act, 2004. This Act of
Parliament makes health and safety, security and the environment NDAs main priority.
The UK government has recently committed itself to a statutory obligation under the new
Climate Change Bill. It must reduce CO2 emissions by over 60% from current levels by 2050.
In monitoring the impact of nuclear power stations it is important to take these considerations
into account. In decommissioning and cleaning up sites, it is essential to consider how clean-up
activities will affect the environment.
NDA believes that its responsibilities go beyond legal frameworks. Its view is that no accident
is acceptable. In addition to what is necessary under the law, it imposes self-regulation
covering every aspect of its operations. For example, employees driving on NDA business
must call in to report that they have arrived at their destination safely. The welfare of the
workforce is essential. This includes regular medical health check ups, and careful follow-up
on any reported illness.
GLOSSARY
Objective: the ends that an
organisation seeks to achieve.
Nuclear legacy: the nuclear
sites and facilities which were
developed during the 1940s and
1960s, including the wastes,
materials and spent fuels they
produced. The Magnox fleet of
nuclear power stations were
designed and built in the 1960s
and 1970s.
Statutory obligations: duties
which businesses and individuals
must legally carry out as defined
by different laws.
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Health and Safety (H&S) legislation
All workers need health and safety protection. It is in the interest of a business to protect its
workforce or any group who might be affected by its operations. These include contractors
and the local community.
There are a number of health and safety laws that affect all businesses, including:
HSAWA The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 sets out a legal responsibility of
businesses to create healthy and safe working conditions. Employees are expected to work
in a safe way with due respect for fellow employees and the wider public. Individuals are
responsible for taking care, using the right equipment and reporting faults. HSAWA, 1974
covers details such as health and safety training and the identification and elimination of
all risks in the workplace.
COSHH The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, 1999 sets out regulations
about how potentially dangerous substances must be handled. This has clear implications
in the nuclear industry. Uranium and other substances require detailed instructions and
procedures about how they are handled. There are multiple safety precautions involved.
The Factories Act, 1961 relates to all manufacturing industries. It sets out details of
working conditions such as working temperature and ventilation.
Fire Precautions Act, 1971 sets out regulations about fire safety equipment, safety checks
and fire drills.
Working Time Directive, 1999 sets out maximum hours that employees can work in a
particular week. This is important for all workers but especially when working in the
nuclear industry.
The following NDA procedures, relating to its employees working environment, show the
importance of health and safety issues:
It is a disciplinary offence not to obey H&S requirements. Employees need to be well
educated to ensure instructions are followed clearly and put into practice.
Health, safety and security for people and the environment are a key objective of the NDA.
The toxic nature of nuclear materials requires care is taken at all times.
Inspections are carried out regularly and any areas needing attention are dealt with
immediately.
NDA hosts events on best practice for the nuclear industry. This helps businesses
worldwide to benefit from NDAs expertise.
As a government-sponsored organisation, it reports on its performance in these areas.
NDA is accountable to the Health and Safety Executive. This inspects premises to make
sure that laws are being upheld.
The outcome of these practices is that employees across the industry probably enjoy the
highest levels of safety of any employees in the UK.
Labour law
The Energy Act sets out the responsibility for the NDA to ensure there is an appropriately-
skilled workforce available to carry out decommissioning and clean-up. The NDA has created
Skills Action Plans to ensure that enough employees with the right skills are being trained to
carry out this work.
NDA makes sure that all of its employees receive competitive remuneration packages and
good working conditions. Particular focus is given to meeting all aspects of employment
legislation. For example:
The Equal Pay Act, 1970 guarantees equal pay to all employees for carrying out work that
is rated as the same, similar or of equal value. This ensures equal pay between men and
women.
The Sex Discrimination Acts, 1975 and 1986 (SDA) involves making sure that there is no
discrimination between men and women in terms of recruitment, training, promotion and
other aspects of work. All employees have the same opportunities.
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The Race Relations Act, 1976 and Race Relations (Amendment) Act, 2000 (RRA) applies
the same principles as the SDA in relation to race and religion.
The Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 (DDA) ensures that wherever possible employees
with disabilities are helped to do their jobs. This includes adapting the working
environment where it is reasonable to do so. For example, by providing wheelchair access,
adapting computer keyboards and screens (for visual impairment) or other modifications,
employees are able to continue working.
NDA seeks to exceed these requirements, so enabling the recruitment of the best possible
workforce.
The business benefits of protecting the workforce
Meeting or exceeding legal requirements creates a number of business benefits for NDA.
These include:
Reduced rates of absence. NDA sites have lower levels of absence from sickness than the
national average.
Increased motivation of employees. Employees who feel safe and secure have confidence
in their employer. They are likely to work harder. This creates a more productive and
profitable business. NDA has a significant training programme in H&S responsibilities. For
example drivers are provided with advanced driving courses.
The business is protected from claims. NDA operates a safety management system to
record, report and act on issues. The result is that there are fewer claims against NDA.
Business goals of operating in a safe and secure way are met.
NDA being seen in a favourable light by its stakeholders. For example, by NDA carrying out
waste management and cleaning contaminated land, the local communities are made safer.
Conclusion
The UK has a long nuclear legacy. The NDA is the body given responsibility by the UK
government to make sure that decommissioning and clean-up of nuclear sites is effective and
safe. NDA has created public confidence in its practices by meeting the necessary legal
requirements. Through its commitment to health and safety it has helped move the UK
towards being the leader in safe and secure practice. NDA has ensured that its reputation is
first in the field. This makes it a world leader whose practices are benchmarked and copied
throughout the nuclear industry. The outcome of NDAs work is to provide one of the safest
work environments in the world.
Questions
1. What is meant by the term stakeholders? Give examples of stakeholders in the NDAs
decommissioning and clean-up process. Outline how three of these stakeholders are
affected by or influence these processes.
2. What is business legislation? Explain, with reference to three groups, how they benefit
from such legislation.
3. Why are safety and security crucial to
NDA? Give examples of ways in which
NDA and its employees engage in Health
and Safety activities.
4. Why are labour laws important to NDA?
What actions could NDA take to ensure
that all labour laws are adhered to by
everyone in the organisation?
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