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Audit of noise damage risk - ConocoPhillips

On 19 May 2010, the PSA carried out an audit directed toward ConocoPhillips' risk management in the noise damage area. We identified one nonconformity related to the exposure of employee groups to hazardous noise and one improvement item related to management of noise reduction measures.


The contractor Beerenberg was also included in the audit.

Background
The risk of health damage related to noise exposure has for a number of years been monitored as part of RNNP (Trend in risk level in the petroleum activity). The development has not been satisfactory. Reference is made to the press release dated 23 April 2010. In its processing of the RNNP reports, the Safety Forum has emphasised the large number of noise injuries and deficient noise follow-up as a highly prioritised commitment area for the industry.

In connection with the audit activity, the PSA has organised and presented data from RNNP relating to ConocoPhillips.

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.

Goal
Through the audit activity, the PSA planned to gather sufficient information on ConocoPhillips' 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.

Result
We identified one nonconformity related to the exposure of employee groups to hazardous noise and one improvement item related to management of noise reduction measures.

Nonconformity

Employee groups are exposed to hazardous noise
Several employee groups have higher noise exposure than the requirements stipulated in the regulations.

Basis:

  • ConocoPhillips' calculation of noise exposure by a simplified method (the noise indicator model) shows that several groups can be exposed to higher noise levels than the regulatory requirement of 83dB(A) for a 12-hour workday
  • Noise values from the noise map compared with estimated work times for personnel groups indicates that groups can be exposed to hazardous noise
  • ConocoPhillips has not carried out a detailed risk assessment for personnel groups
  • ConocoPhillips has reported a relatively high number of employees with hearing loss
  • Employees must to a large degree base themselves on the use of hearing protection as the most important measure against hearing injuries

Improvement items

Measures to reduce noise
Management of measures to reduce noise was deficient.

Basis:

  • We identified deficient noise injury risk assessment, cf. Item 5.1.1. The main contributors to the risk of noise injury do not seem to be systematically identified. The basis for making decisions and prioritisation of risk-reducing measures was thus inadequate
  • ConocoPhillips could only document to a limited extent that measures have resulted in reduced noise exposure for employee groups. The company's own trending of noise exposure (the noise indicator model) is not linked to the effect of measures that have been carried out
  • Through presentations we learned that ConocoPhillips' 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 prioritisation of risk-reducing measures
  • It is unclear whether ConocoPhillips had carried out an overall evaluation for all facilities as regards the potential for technical and possibly operational noise reduction measures. Internal company requirements have not been developed for cost-benefit assessments regarding noise reduction.


Other comments

The PSA has noted that ConocoPhillips has worked actively to reduce the risk of noise injury for heliguards and that this work has been continued in the industry. The company has also been a driver for technical solutions (permanent and mobile noise enclosures) that can have a significant potential for noise reduction.

We have also noted that ConocoPhillips, in its work to follow up groups exposed to risk, has established a schedule for identifying critical contracts and measures to facilitate smoother exercise of COPNO's supervisory duty.