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Minutes from Safety Forum meeting no. 2/2012

Safety Forum meeting no. 2/2012 was characterised by extensive debates about the development of the Safety Forum as a key tripartite arena for HSE in the industry, and about what should be the main subjects on the strategic agenda going forward.

In addition to these key debates, a status report was given on all ongoing items, and the PSA also gave a response to the parties in the consultation process concerning the key documents Principles for barrier management in petroleum activities – consultation memo (in Norwegian only) and Measures in the industry – follow-up of DwH – consultation memo(in Norwegian only).

In conclusion, the PSA gave an overview of its priority work aimed particularly at groups exposed to risk and its audit strategy in this area for 2012. Finally, support was given to working on a draft programme for the Safety Forum’s annual conference.

Interaction, roles and improvements
Safety Forum members, who come from the major organisations of both employers and employees in the Norwegian petroleum industry, showed great interest in eliciting views on how the Safety Forum can serve as a tripartite arena - and how the interaction can be improved.

Everyone contributed experiences from interaction and conflict resolution and stated their views on communication and problem solving in light of roles and functions. The chairman of the Safety Forum and Director General of the PSA summed up by stating that the arena works well, is important to the members and that everyone sees opportunities for improvement and development.

This was followed by a debate on the Safety Forum's role in relation to administration, on the placement of priorities and the importance of the international perspective on activities in matters debated. At the conclusion of the debate the chairman of the Safety Forum gave a summary of the importance of the Safety Forum for tripartite cooperation in the industry. For details, see the more comprehensive minutes in the right margin.

The most important of the important issues
The debate on the Safety Forum's priorities from 2012 onwards began in 2011. The backdrop for the debate was a document with guidelines issued by the Safety Forum’s mandate, from the Working Life Report and Petroleum Report, with proposed priorities.

There was considerable debate on the proposal that was sent out. The debate was, naturally enough, digressive because there were comments on the main priorities and the detailed text, along with comments to the effect that "everything is connected with everything." It is also difficult to isolate certain priority areas from others, such as risk of major accident, which affects most issues.

Priority areas for the Safety Forum, which the members appear to agree on, are Major accident risk, Working environment risk, Collaboration and participation, Qualifications/Capacity and Mutual sharing of information. Members were encouraged to provide specific input to the current text. The debate will be finalised at the Safety Forum's next meeting.

Continuous follow-up
The list of ongoing items, which are reviewed at each meeting, is extensive. This is because some cases are very complex, involving projects and processes that span several years. Because it was stressed during the debate how the Safety Forum serves as tripartite arena, this list is important in terms of continuity, action and sign off. At the same time, it was agreed that the list can be compressed.

The issues involved in the cases the Safety Forum follows range from chemical working environment , via HSE challenges on onshore facilities and the follow-up of Deepwater Horizon to the situation in the wake of the European Commission's proposed safety regulation for the petroleum industry.

Key documents for consultation
At a special meeting of Safety Forum members in December, members were informed of the PSA’s follow-up after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In the wake of this meeting two key documents were circulated for consultation in the industry: Principles for barrier management in petroleum activities – consultation memo and Measures in the industry – follow-up of DwH – consultation memo.

An immediate response to consultation comments from the industry was given at the meeting. In light of the comments on the "barrier memo", the PSA will organise a process under the direction of the Regulatory Forum.

Concerning the memo that describes the PSA’s expectations for actions in the industry in the wake of Deepwater, it was difficult for the PSA to read specific feedback on proposed measures in the consultation comments. It was therefore concluded that the PSA will send a circular letter in which specific feedback is requested in terms of action and who will implement them.

Those most vulnerable
The PSA has worked systematically with groups exposed to risk (Norwegian abbreviation: RUG) since 2007 and the members were given a status report on work and strategies to this end in 2012.

The follow-up by the PSA has revealed that the risk of work-related injury and illness is unevenly distributed between occupational groups in the petroleum industry. While improvements have been seen over time, companies are still doing little to carry out risk-reduction measures for the most vulnerable groups of workers. Also in 2012, the PSA will follow up how the industry is taking concrete measures to reduce the risk of injury and illness for these groups. Noise and chemical health risks, framework conditions in contract labour in the chain are key words in the supervision activities. The main message of the PSA is:

Companies shall promote inclusion and reduce the risk of injury and illness for particularly vulnerable groups through specific measures

Safety Forum’s annual conference on 7 June
The meeting endorsed a draft programme for the Safety Forum's annual conference on 7 June in Stavanger. Download the final programme.