The risk of health hazards related to noise exposure has for a number of years been monitored as part of RNNP (Risk level in the petroleum industry). The development has not been satisfactory. Reference is made to the press release dated 23 April 2010. In its processing of the RNNP reports, Safety Forum has emphasised the large number of noise injuries and deficient noise follow-up as a highly prioritised target area for the industry.
In connection with the audit activity, the PSA has organised and presented data from RNNP relating to BP.
The Petroleum Safety Authority's work on groups exposed to risk also points to the risk of noise injuries and emphasises in particular the high risk within contractor groups and their use of handheld tools. Ear protection in combination with work time restrictions is the only risk-reducing measure. Personal protective equipment is a weak barrier where the actual protective effect is associated with considerable uncertainty.
In general, comprehensive documentation is available, based on mapping and risk assessments, but few technical measures are planned and implemented to reduce the risk of noise injury. For the contractor groups, the use of hand tools is an important source of noise exposure, which is only covered to a lesser degree by risk assessments.
Through the audit activity, the PSA planned to gather sufficient information on BP's management within the noise area to be able to evaluate compliance with regulatory requirements. The PSA specifically focused on the company's measures to reduce the risk of noise injury.
The contractor BiS was also included in the audit activity.
The following nonconformities were identified during the audit:
• Employee groups are exposed to hazardous noise
• Deficient systems and plans for implementing risk-reducing measures
The PSA's observations are generally divided into two categories:
• Nonconformity: Related to observations where we are of the opinion that we can prove breach of the regulatory requirements.
• Improvement item: Related to observations where we see deficiencies, but do not have sufficient information to prove breach of the regulatory requirements.
Employee groups are exposed to hazardous noise
Several employee groups have higher noise exposure than requirements stipulated in the Regulations. BP can only to a limited degree document that the potential for noise reduction through technical measures has been exploited.
• During the meeting, BP presented an overview showing that several employee groups are exposed to higher noise levels than the regulatory requirement of 83 dB(A) for a 12-hour workday
• For groups of employees exposed to self-produced noise from hand tools in addition to area noise, we were informed that work time limitations are based on the contribution from area noise alone
• Through presentations, we learned that BP's risk reduction measures mainly consisted of the use of hearing protection in combination with work time limitations. This is not in accordance with regulatory requirements for the selection of risk-reducing measures
• BP could not document that cost/benefit assessments of potential technical measures had been carried out in the area in order to reduce noise
Deficient systems and plans for carrying out risk-reducing measures
BP could not document schedules for implementation of risk-reducing technical noise measures at BP's facilities. The company could only to a limited degree document that measures had reduced the risk of noise injury.
• The main contributors to the risk of noise injury do not seem to be systematically identified. The basis for the choice of risk-reducing measures was thus insufficient
• During the meeting, we learned that BP not had established schedules and risk-based action plans to reduce noise on its facilities
• A risk-based prioritisation of measures to reduce noise in specific areas had not been carried out on the facilities. The basis for choosing technical measures is not sufficiently based on identified risk
• The company could only to a limited degree document that technical measures had reduced the risk of noise injury
• In the meeting, BP could not explain a process where technical noise-reducing measures are systematically assessed and documented with a view toward reducing the risk of noise-related hearing injuries
Notification of order
Based on the nonconformities proven during the audit, the PSA has therefore notified BP of the following order:
Pursuant to Section 9 of the Framework Regulations regarding principles relating to risk reduction, the Management Regulations, Section 8 relating to the basis and criteria for decisions, Section 9 relating to planning and Section 22 relating to improvement, as well as Section 36 of the Activities Regulations relating to noise and vibrations, cf. Section 58 of the Framework Regulations relating to
Review its system for managing noise damage risk for employee groups and taking necessary steps to achieve compliance with regulatory requirements. This shall include a review of procedures and systems to identify necessary improvement measures, and also the development of schedules for risk-based corrective measures related to the risk of noise injuries, cf. Item 5.1.2 in the report
The deadline for complying with the order is set at 1 October 2010. We must be notified when the order has been carried out.
Øyvind Midttun, press contact
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