Office for Nuclear Regulation

Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston – Inspection ID: 52801

Date(s) of inspection

  • October 2023

Executive summary

Aim of inspection

There is evidence which suggests that duty holders have placed reliance on competent person examinations rather than suitable maintenance regimes supported by competent person examinations. There is empirical evidence of instances where Competent Persons have not had sufficient knowledge and experience of the equipment being inspected, for example the safety case requirements of particular safety devices or features on lifting equipment, some of which may not be conventional features and so are missed by the inspection.

The engagement aims to:

  • Obtain evidence as to whether duty holders are sufficiently aware of their obligations under LOLER, particularly regarding maintenance and statutory examination;
  • Assess how duty holders ensure that Competent Persons have suitable knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment they inspect on nuclear sites;
  • Assess duty holder arrangements for the supervision and management of contractors on-site, in particular the Competent Persons;
  • Assess the duty holders’ arrangements for ensuring that all safety related structures, systems and components on lifting equipment are adequately maintained throughout their operational life;
  • Obtain evidence suitable and sufficient knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment on nuclear sites for those undertaking Examination, Inspection, Maintenance and Testing activities; and
  • Form a judgement on AWE’s arrangements

Subject(s) of inspection

  • LC26 – Control and supervision of operations – Rating: Green
  • LC28 – Examination, inspection, maintenance and testing – Rating: Green

Key findings, inspector’s opinions and reasons for judgement made

In accordance with the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR’s) weapons sub-division Strategy, ONR performs planned compliance inspections of selected licence conditions, targeted at areas of significant importance to nuclear safety.
This record describes the outcome from a planned compliance inspection at the Atomic Weapons Agency (AWE) Aldermaston site. The purpose of the inspection was to confirm AWE’s compliance with its corporate arrangements for Licence Condition (LC) 28 (Examination, Inspection, Maintenance and Testing (EIMT)) and LC26 (Control and Supervision of Operations) relating to Lifting equipment and competent person oversight. It forms part of a themed inspection being carried out across the nuclear estate by ONR and aligns with DRO 5.6 within the weapons sub division strategy.
Within October and November site weeks, I carried out a planned themed inspection sampling the following areas:
  • AWE’s corporate function
  • waste and decommissioning facilities
  • Plutonium Technology Centre
  • Assembly Technology Centre
  • Explosive Technology Centre
This sampled AWE’s control and supervision of competent persons and their implementation of examination, inspection,  maintenance and testing activities for lifting equipment. The purpose of this inspection was for the ONR to determine the adequacy of the licensee’s formal Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) arrangements for compliance with LC26 and LC28.  This inspection comprised of discussions with AWE staff, reviews of plant records and other documentation and a facility walkdown.
Prior to the inspection, I undertook a review of the relevant AWE arrangements for maintenance planning and outsourcing of service provision against ONR guidance documents.  From the areas sampled, I did not identify any significant shortfalls in the licensee’s formal arrangements for compliance with LC26 & LC28 which would prompt an inspection of these arrangements earlier than currently planned.
AWE provided an overview of its overarching LOLER arrangements for compliance with LC26 and LC28. The overview explained how appropriate standards and relevant good practice has been considered and incorporated.
AWE demonstrated an adequate understanding of safety claims made on lifting equipment. It demonstrated how maintenance is identified and communicated through subordinate documentation.
I reviewed claims made on lifting equipment and the associated maintenance undertaken. AWE provided adequate evidence that maintenance had been undertaken and statutory requirements had been met across multiple facilities.
AWE adequately demonstrated that persons undertaking maintenance activities were suitably qualified and experienced.
AWE demonstrated adequate supervision and approval for maintenance undertaken on lifting equipment. 

Conclusion

On the basis of the intervention evidence sampled at AWE in relation to LC26 and 28, I judge that the licensee has adequate arrangements in place for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) compliance. I did not identify any significant shortfalls in the delivery of safety. Therefore, I have assigned an inspection rating of GREEN (no formal action required)

LC26: Green – minor failure to implement compliance arrangements.

LC28 : Green –  no significant shortfalls identified in the delivery of safety.