Building Safety Culture Into Our DNA - Every Task | Every Person | Every Day


The Department’s expectations for establishing and maintaining a positive safety culture are outlined in DOE P 450.4A, Integrated Safety Management Policy.  DOE P 450.4A, Change 1, Integrated Safety Management Policy.


The Department of Energy (DOE) expects all organizations to embrace a strong safety culture where safe performance of work and involvement of workers in all aspects of work performance are core values that are deeply, strongly, and consistently held by managers and workers."

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s Message on Safety Culture

Jennifer M. Granholm

Secretary Jennifer Granholm shared her expectations for establishing and maintaining a positive culture in the Safety Culture Expectations video recorded on August 13, 2021. 



“I want to make it perfectly clear that safety is a core value at the Department. Safe performance of work is the overriding priority when we plan and complete our work. It must be incorporated into every aspect of our jobs to successfully complete our mission.”



Organizational Culture, Safety Culture and Safety Conscious Work Environment in white text, with green backgrounds with ISM in black letters on yellow background

DOE Definitions

DOE’s safety culture, Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE), and organizational culture are highly interdependent on one another -- an organization must have all three to be successful.

Organizational Culture is a set of commonly shared beliefs, expectations, and values that influence and guide the thinking and behavior of organizational members, are reflected in how work is carried out.

Safety Culture is an organization’s values and behaviors, modeled by its leaders and internalized by its members, which serve to make safe performance of work the overriding priority to protect the workers, public, and the environment. 

Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE) is an environment in which employees feel free to raise safety concerns to management (or a regulator) without fear of retaliation.


Integrated Safety Management System

DOE’s Integrated Safety Management System (ISM) in place since 1996, provides the Department’s framework for safely performing work.

For more information on how the concepts of Safety Culture, Safety Conscious Work Environment and Organizational Culture work together, watch the DOE National Training Center’s Introduction to Safety Culture video.

Safety Culture Focus Areas

DOE’s Safety Culture Focus Areas and Associated Attributes are identified in DOE G 450.4-1C, Attachment 10, which was issued in September 2011.  This document is different than any other issued by the Department.  It is descriptive (rather than prescriptive) and identifies behaviors that, when demonstrated consistently, will promote a positive safety culture, a SCWE, and a strong organizational climate.

DOE Focus Area in black letters on white background, Leadership in white text on blue background, Employee/Worker Engagement in white text on orange background, Organizational Learning in white text on green background

The Safety Culture Focus Areas and Associated Attributes promote a shift from compliance towards a standard of operational excellence with an emphasis on continuous improvement and long-term performance. 

Beneath each of these Focus Areas there are attributes that describe what a strong organizational culture, a positive safety culture, and a SCWE, looks like and feels like.  The goal is to embed these individual and organizational behaviors to make them a part of the Department’s DNA – so it becomes part of everything we do -- in every task, with every person, every day.

Safety and Health

The Department is committed to excellence in health and safety and will demonstrate this commitment by following these principles:

  • Operating our facilities and conducting work activities in a manner that protects our employees, the public, and the environment;
  • Striving to ensure that each DOE employee understands his or her role and responsibility for safety and health; and
  • Fostering a SCWE across all departmental operations.          

DOE’s Safety Culture Journey

DOE’s safety culture journey is a process to achieve a strong safety culture that will never end – it is a journey not a destination.

In 2006, the Department recognized the need to improve its safety culture and began to implement the concept of safety culture in its policies and after issues in one of its high-profile projects exposed areas for improvement.

DOE evaluated many of its locations and identified that the areas for improvement were widespread.  Since that time the Department has implemented a deliberate approach to building safety culture concepts consistently across the DOE complex. This includes safety culture training for Senior Leaders, First Line Supervisors, and employees.

Safety Culture Improvement Panel

Safety Culture Improvement Panel

DOE’s Safety Culture Improvement Panel (SCIP) was established in 2015.  The SCIP provides:

  • A permanent, high-level organization devoted to promoting safety culture across the DOE complex.
  • Cross-organizational leaders focus on continuous safety culture improvement; and
  • A forum to exchange information and ideas to establish, monitor, and sustain measures supporting a strong safety culture.


Contact Us

Safety Culture Improvement Panel
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585