This article was published in the publication "Safety - status and signals 2010-2011".
Employee participation runs like a red thread through Norway’s regulatory regime for the oil industry, and is essential for cooperation to function both locally and centrally.
But good collaboration does not just happen. Partnerships between employeers, unions and government at every level depend on a sense of equality between the participants, good dialogue and an acknowledgement of roles and responsibilities.
Such mutual recognition between companies and employees did not exist in Norway at the end of the 1990s. On the contrary, relations were often confrontational.
A number of important measures adopted by the government got collaboration back on track, including the creation of a genuine basis for dialogue through the PSA’s RNNP process.
Focusing on the risk level and HSE challenges in the industry, this work also contributed to a shared understanding of hazards.
The tripartite Safety Forum was established in 2001 in order to initiate, discuss and follow up current safety, emergency preparedness and working environment issues.
It has become an arena for mutual and strategic information-sharing and debate, where employers, unions and government give signals, clarify roles and allocate responsibilities.
Set up in 2004, the Regulatory Forum ensures tripartite involvement in developing the regulations, and is a continuation of the earlier external reference group for regulations created in 1985.
Both these fora are chaired and operated by the PSA, with companies and unions represented by experienced personnel from their respective central organisations.
All three sides have contributed knowledge and experience through a number of specific projects and processes. This lowers the level of conflict and enhances respect for each other’s roles.
Involvement in work on White Papers, the RNNP and developing regulations has contributed to a shared understanding of risk, ownership of solutions and measures to reduce risk.