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Fewer serious crane and lifting incidents offshore

75 percent fewer serious incidents linked to crane and lifting operations were recorded on the Norwegian shelf in 2004, compared with 2000. This emerged during the opening of the 10th international offshore crane and lifting conference in Stavanger on 11 May.

The objective of "The North Sea Offshore Cranes & Lifting Conference" is to discuss and spread knowledge of the "best practice" within the field of cranes and lifting operations offshore, both in relation to equipment/new technology, operational and organizational factors.

From being a relatively small conference with about 50 participants from the North Sea countries, the conference has grown to be a central international meeting place for industry, professional communities and national authorities - this year with about 150 delegates from 13 nations.

The conference, which extends over two days, has also developed as regards theme, and now encompasses the entire logistics chain in the field of lifting operations with offshore cranes.

Positive trend
In his opening address, discipline leader in the PSA and head of the conference committee, Svein Anders Eriksson, referred to the preliminary results of a comprehensive study of incidents linked to cranes and lifting operations on the Norwegian shelf during the period 2000-2004. The study, which was commissioned by the PSA, is a continuation of a similar mapping activity in the period 1994-1999.

"Based on information from these studies, we conclude that the number of red and yellow incidents has been reduced significantly during the period 2000-2004, compared with the previous period 1994-1999. And 75 percent fewer serious incidents linked to crane and lifting operations were recorded on the Norwegian shelf in 2004, compared with 2000," says Eriksson.

He points out that both the authorities and the industry implemented a number of measures after the first study. Among other things, over the past four years the PSA has implemented intensive audit and information activities to reduce the risk associated with cranes and lifting operations. In addition, we have been heavily involved in standardization work so that the industry will have a common frame of reference in an area filled with complex challenges.

"Improvement measures in the industry and audits conducted by the PSA have undoubtedly had an impact on the number of incidents," concludes Eriksson.

The study of incidents in the period 2000-2004 is not complete, but will be published on the PSA's web site before summer.

More near-misses
In spite of the positive trend, accidents and incidents linked to cranes and lifting operations still account for a significant contribution to the overall risk and damage/injury scenario. Most serious of all is that, during 2000-2004, we experienced three fatal accidents linked to cranes and lifting operations offshore (Oseberg Øst in 2000 and Byford Dolphin and Gyda - both in 2002).

There have also been several serious incidents in this area in 2005, including the PSA's investigation of the incident on Oseberg B on 26 April, in which a person was seriously injured after having been struck by a 600 kg pipe during a lifting operation on the pipe deck.

The investigations of this and other serious incidents this spring are not complete, and the PSA has not concluded in relation to whether or not we see common features in the course of events and underlying causes among the various incidents.

Continuous commitment
Although we can note a general positive trend in relation to undesirable incidents with offshore cranes, the PSA's discipline leader emphasizes that a continuous commitment is needed in order to follow up the good results and to achieve continuous improvement.

"The authorities, professional communities and the industry must work together to make a commitment to reduce the total number of incidents involving lifting operations, including within the drilling area," says Eriksson.

"Preliminary conclusions from the most recent study indicate that the PSA should maintain a particular focus on cranes and lifting operations in the future, with emphasis on planning, maintenance management and competence," he adds.

Contact person in the PSA:
Inger Anda, press spokes person
E-mail: inger.anda@ptil.no
Ph: +47 970 54 064