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Audit of working environment management in ConocoPhillips

During the period 10-26 November 2004, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of working environment management on ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS' (CoP's) facilities. Several non-conformances were revealed during the audit and we have issued a notification of order to the company. We also noted positive elements in the way CoP follows up the working environment.

Our notification of order relates in part to the use of resources with relevant, specific working environment expertise in a systematic manner in the work to follow up the working environment.

The notification of order also relates to a review of the company's system for managing the working environment, including the establishment of specific requirements for the working environment, establishment of procedures for systematic mapping and evaluation of the working environment in relation to requirements, improvement of systems for identification, risk assessment and handling of non-conformances, as well as systematic follow-up of working environment surveys.

The audit was conducted as a general audit aimed at working environment management on CoP facilities, however, the audit particularly targeted follow-up of the working environment on the Ekofisk Complex (photo).

Ekofisk Complex. Photo: ConocoPhillips

For the purposes of our audit, we selected Bjørge Norcoat's scaffolding department in order to examine how CoP follows up the contractors' working environment.

Background for the audit

Follow-up of the working environment is an important part of the preventive HSE work, and is thus also a key element in the PSA's priorities.

There have been no previous audits of CoP's overall working environment management.

Similar audits of working environment management have been carried out in relation to other operators.

Link: Audit - management of working environment factors in Hydro

Purpose of the audit

The objective of the audit was to gain an overview of CoP's management system for systematic follow-up of the working environment on the shelf.

Another goal was to obtain an overview of working environment challenges and the status of working environment issues on CoP facilities as a basis for further follow-up.

A further objective of the audit was to verify compliance with the requirement for systematic follow-up of the working environment in all phases/stages of the management loop.

Therefore, the audit focused on management elements rather than the details in the respective technical disciplines.

Result of the audit

During the audit we discovered several weaknesses in CoP's systems for management of the working environment vis-à-vis regulatory requirements.

Eight non-conformances were recorded, as well as four elements where there is a potential for improvements.

The PSA is of the opinion that important causes of deficient working environment management on the part of CoP include the lack of using professional resources within the working environment field, as well as a lack of understanding in the organization that working environment requirements have the same formal status as other HSE requirements in the regulations, and must be followed up with comparable systems.

In the audit, we identified non-conformances linked to the following circumstances:

  • Deficient description of the company's own internal requirements as regards working environment.
  • The company's system for implementing working environment surveys and follow-up of working environment factors for its own and contractor employees.
  • The company's system for identifying and handling non-conformances in relation to regulatory and internal requirements.
  • Deficient utilization of working environment expertise in connection with surveys, follow-up and verifications.
  • Deficient use of data on work-related illness (ABS) in working and environment analyzing and preventive action.

In addition, we have noted a potential for improvement in the following areas:

  • ConocoPhillips' follow-up of noise.
  • Overview of and interplay between the company's action plans.
  • Implementation of risk assessments.
  • Scarcity of resources in connection with offshore absenteeism.

We also noted several positive elements in the way in which CoP follows up the working environment. These include:

  • Good systems for surveying and identifying non-conformances as regards noise.
  • Implementation of KjemiRisk as a tool for implementing basic risk assessments of chemicals.
  • Contractors we spoke to felt that they were included in a positive way. It emerged during the interview that there had been good improvement processes in Bjørge Norcoat as a consequence of pre-qualification and requirements in the joint contract.
  • We gained a good impression of CoP's work on Inclusive Employment, as well as the impression that the company has a good system for following up individuals who are absent due to illness.

It was noted during the audit that the employees on CoP's facilities regard insufficient rest and restitution as a significant problem.

To compensate for this, CoP has introduced a requirement for employees to report when they are too tired to work and require additional rest.

In this context, the safety delegate pointed out that it is difficult for people to make use of this opportunity to rest during scheduled working hours.

Contact person in the PSA:
Inger Anda