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Consensus on safety status – and the way forward

Broad agreement on safety and working environment conditions in Norway’s oil industry, and on the measures required in the future, is revealed in a report drawn up by representatives of the employers, unions and government.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs  (ASD) invited these parties to join a working group in November 2016 for a joint assessment of and discussion on health, safety and working environment conditions and trends in the Norwegian petroleum industry. Developments in 2015 and 2016 had created a need to put this position on the agenda.

The report from the group, which will also serve as input to a new White Paper on health, safety and the working environment, was submitted to labour and social affairs minister Anniken Hauglie at the end of September.

Anne Myhrvold, director general of the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), notes that broad agreement exists between unions, employer organisations and the government on current conditions and necessary future action.

“Good and important work has been done by this working group,” Myhrvold affirms. “Its report shows that the various sides of the industry have a common understanding of the position here and now, and are very largely agreed on what is needed to maintain and improve the level of safety in the petroleum sector.”

The working group’s assessments are based on a detailed review of the current health, safety and working environment regulations and regulatory strategy, developments in the petroleum sector, and the status of and trends in the risk picture. The risk picture has been assessed on the basis both of historical data and statistics and of experience and signals.

Download the report (which includes an English summary) here: Helse, arbeidsmiljø og sikkerhet i petroleumsvirksomheten: Rapport fra partssammensatt arbeidsgruppe

The report draws the following conclusions.

  • The level of health, safety and the working environment in the Norwegian petroleum sector is high. At the same time, safety challenges and serious conditions have arisen in the past few years.
  • Generally speaking, the regime for regulating health, safety and the working environment in the Norwegian petroleum sector functions well and should be continued. However, making good use of the degree of latitude in the regime depends on the three parties having mutual trust in and respect for their respective roles and responsibilities. This requires the companies to follow up their responsibility to look after and continue developing the level of safety. The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway must be a strong and clear regulator. Bipartite and tripartite collaboration is an important cornerstone of the regime, and must be strengthened and further developed.
  • The orientation of the regulations, based on requirements which are generally performance-based in combination with the use of standards, is desirable given that the industry is developing rapidly and that the companies need to adopt the most appropriate technology at any given time. The main orientation of the regulations is robust and should be maintained.
  • Continuous improvement of health, safety and the working environment is a prerequisite and a common goal for the petroleum sector. To ensure efficient operation and continuous improvement, the industry and the government must continuously strive for, learn from and adopt new knowledge and technology.
  • The RNNP survey represents the most important foundation for a common understanding of reality and for communication concerning trends in risk level in the petroleum activity. The parties in the industry must continue to support work on and continued development of this survey.