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Minutes from Safety Forum meeting no. 1/2012

A review of the process surrounding the EU Commission’s proposed regulation, the petroleum study on shift work, sleep and health and a review/debate of the Safety Forum’s proposed priorities for 2012 and the future – were the main topics at the Safety Forum’s first meeting this year.


In addition to mutual updates regarding the status of all ongoing matters, challenges in relation to the quality of courses/course providers in the industry were discussed, as well as challenges inherent in an increasing investment level, such as capacity and expertise challenges. In the PSA’s review of serious incidents since the previous meeting, five incidents were noted in the last two months associated with anchor systems and loss of position. These were reviewed in detail (see Serious incidents).

The Safety Forum as an arena for tripartite cooperation was another important debate on the agenda, but this was postponed out of consideration to time and everyone being present. The status of the PSA’s efforts towards risk-exposed groups was also postponed due to time concerns.

Safety in the oil and gas industry – an international matter
Based on previous discussions headed by the Safety Forum, a mutual status of the parties’ and authorities discussions and contributions to clarifications was provided in relation to the EU Commission’s proposed regulations for safety in oil and gas activities.

The representatives for the parties in the industry noted the coordinated work carried out in connection with preparation and submission of a Position paper from the Norwegian trade unions and industry associations, as a reaction to the Commission’s proposed regulations. Both the employee and employer interest groups are critical to the proposed regulations and concerned about the consequences of this.

 Minutes were provided from meeting activities in the EU Commission where NSOAF met with the Commission on 19 January 2012. Most countries in NSOAF want a directive rather than regulations.

In connection with the status of major efforts within chemical working environment, which were concluded in 2011, reference was made to the work on registering chemicals which is taking place pursuant to the EU’s regulations for chemicals, REACH. Approx. 600 carcinogenic substances have not been registered by the deadline and the European trade unions are concerned.

 The PSA’s and the parties’ follow-up of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and the major accident risk in the industry are continuously followed up and subject to mutual updates and debates in the Safety Forum. Reference was made to the PSA’s meetings with the parties on 6 December 2011 regarding Deepwater and the memos Principles for barrier management and Measures in the industry, based on the Petroleum Safety Authority’s follow-up of the catastrophe, which was submitted for technical assessments and comments with a deadline for comments on 1 March 2012.

Working hours project – challenges remain
The project Petroleum study on shift work, sleep and health, PUSSH, which is carried out by the National Institute of Occupational Health, STAMI, has faced considerable challenges since its start-up in 2009. The project originated based on the PSA’s working hours project and two international knowledge reviews, which contributed to the oil industry emphasising shift work and health as a prioritised area where knowledge is needed for the Research Council of Norway’s PETROMAKS programme. The methods in the work entailed that the employees would be followed over ten years with annual surveys over the first three years – and then every two years for the remaining seven years. The Research Council of Norway has granted preliminary support to the first three years of the study. Frequent surveys will make it possible to detect changes in working conditions, working hours schemes and risk factors along the way. The project can be connected with NAV data to acquire outcome data, which deals with more than just health.

The project will achieve the agreed project milestones, but not in relation to the objective as regards scope. Since this goal has not been reached, it is not certain that the project will be completed with the last seven years in accordance with the project’s intent as stated by the Research Council of Norway. It would be necessary to determine whether there is a basis for completing the project according to the ambitions of a complete ten-year prospective perspective based on further financing from the Research Council of Norway.

Everyone acknowledged the project was not sufficiently anchored in the industry. Perhaps special industry-specific conditions were underestimated, and perhaps there has been a lack of understanding from the part of the R&D player’s side by the players in the industry. The industry was asked to contribute to implement a project that has been requested and important.

Both the PSA and members want the project to continue, but emphasised that the challenge will be to strengthen the foundation and increase the scope of the project by including more companies. This will require time and effort. The Safety Forum’s members were encouraged to bring the issues from the meeting back to their own ranks and discuss how the desired scope can be achieved in the project. Feedback will be provided in the Safety Forum’s next meeting. At the same time, STAMI will take the initiative to revitalise the tripartite reference group, established through the Safety Forum, for further discussion regarding progress.

Safety forum’s strategic agenda
Since 2007, the Safety Forum has had prioritised areas for a strategic agenda. Based on the PSA’s and the industry’s overall efforts in following up the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, guidelines from a Working Environment White Paper and a new Petroleum White Paper and the PSA’s main priorities for 2012, the Safety Forum discussed proposals for new priorities from 2012 and ahead.

There was considerable agreement in the debate regarding main priorities. At the same time, the need for clarity as regards roles and responsibilities in the entire contract chain was emphasised, that the activity is entering new geographical areas, the importance of looking at working environment risk in a long-term perspective, the necessity of identifying future resources and expertise and ensuring employee involvement in the early stages as well.

Based on this debate, a final document has been prepared where the Safety Forum’s prioritised areas are described in detail. The following main topics will be key on the Safety Forum’s strategic agenda in the time to come: Major accident risk, Multipartite cooperation and involvement, Working environment risk, Cost level and profitability’s significance for safety and the working environment and Mutual sharing of knowledge and information.

Under the headline development trends in the industry, the head of the Safety Forum and the PSA director general encouraged a debate in the aftermath of the prioritisation debate and the expected increase in investments which the industry faces.

His main point was the following:
Where will we find the necessary competent and communicating capacity?
If the pressure we are experiencing now in the industry is increased further – what challenges will we then face?

In the debate that followed, positive examples of initiatives for improved project management and improved dialogue were noted, and others pointed out fatigue, increased use of night work, increasing time pressure and the importance of learning from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe also to ensure facilitation for interaction and cooperation.

See the updated overview for case follow-up for a short version and status of all ongoing matters:

Contact information
Angela Ebbesen, Technical secretary Safety Forum

Email angela.ebbesen@ptil.no