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Minutes from Safety Forum meeting no.4/2010

The minutes of the meeting between the authorities and parties in the oil and gas industry on the UK shelf and discussion of follow-up actions for strengthened tripartite collaboration across shelves, were the main topics of the Safety Forum's meeting in Aberdeen on 17 September.

In addition to mutual updates regarding the status of several important, ongoing issues, such as the follow-up from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, information was provided on several serious incidents in connection with falling objects, on the work under the auspices of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association's Mooring Forum, on the revitalisation work for Working Together for Safety and the status of the safety and emergency preparedness work following the disbanding of PSK (the Norwegian Oil Industry Association for Quality Assurance of Competence). Area emergency preparedness and a summary of the meeting with Helse Midt-Norge (Mid Norway Regional Health Authority) regarding medical emergency preparedness were also on the agenda.

Tripartite collaboration across shelves
The day before, Safety Forum met with representatives of the parties and the supervisory authorities on the UK shelf, the HSE Offshore Division, in Aberdeen. The background for the meeting was the desire for mutual information and contact across shelves as a basis for possible joint effort areas for improving HSE in the industry.

(Foto: Halvor Erikstein, Safe)

The meeting at the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that there is a real basis for cooperation across shelves. At the same time it was acknowledged that it is demanding to get an overview of a complex landscape of organisations and stakeholders involved in various initiatives for participation and cooperation on HSE on the UK shelf. Safety Forum wants to produce and obtain more comprehensive knowledge of organisations, processes and experience from tripartite collaboration on HSE in the UK sector. It was decided that the Health and Safety Executive and the parties in the UK sector would be invited to a Safety Forum meeting in 2011.

The goal is to facilitate transfer of experience and cooperation in important areas, such as helicopter safety and measures for joint guidelines/models for uniform practice in critical work processes.

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Norwegian sector
Learning from the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a recurring theme at Safety Forum meetings, together with information on serious incidents in the Norwegian oil and gas sector. Director General of the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) and leader of the Safety Forum, Magne Ognedal, emphasised that while an effort is underway to gather knowledge as to why things went wrong, we must also continuously focus on preventive work to avoid serious incidents and major accidents.

He also gave a short orientation on various parts of the bilateral contacts that have been established between the PSA and supervisory authorities across shelves for mutual learning and information sharing from serious accidents and disasters. He reviewed three serious incidents that have taken place over the last two months. They all concerned falling objects, which is a challenge for the industry in spite of a lot of good work in the area. On 21 September, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) carried out a seminar on falling objects.

An industry seminar will also be held on 5 November, organised by the PSA, Working together for Safety and OLF. See http://www.ptil.no/nyheter/industriseminar-i-ptil-5-november-om-fallende-gjenstander-article7137-24.html

Processes for smoother HSE risk management
The main activities in RNNP 2010, indicators relating to incidents with major accident potential, barrier indicators, serious personal injuries and a qualitative study, are proceeding according to plan. As regards the annual qualitative study, this is directed toward causal relations and measures related to gas leaks on permanent facilities, a literature study for identifying areas that have not been mapped/followed up.

The Norwegian Shipowners' Association work in the Mooring Forum to promote mooring/positioning of mobile facilities and establish professional networks, has been somewhat reduced due to the focus on davit-launched lifeboats and follow-up of new regulatory requirements. To follow up the objective of a 50% reduction in the number of serious mooring incidents and a 75% reduction within 2010, compared with 2006, work is underway to gather and review reporting figures from the members.

Several cooperation venues have been established in the HSE ares to ensure best practices in the industry through bilateral and tripartite cooperation. Working Together for Safety is one such venue. The Norwegian Union of Energy Workers (SAFE) has now become a member and there are positive expectations for further work in the venue.

At the same time, there is some frustration on the employee side as a result of the disbanding of PSK http://www.psk.no/. PSK was a multipartite venue, which was tasked with quality-assurance of courses and suppliers of courses for the oil and gas industry. OLF is working on a memo that will outline a permanent future solution. OLF emphasised that there will be an approval scheme in the future as well.

Area emergency preparedness – a challenging topic
This item was on the agenda because of a letter from the trade unions SAFE and IE, which was also supported by the Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives (Lederne), where they wanted more attention on the total area emergency preparedness on the Norwegian shelf.

The background for this was an ongoing activity at one of the large players in the industry and work by OLF that is also exploring area emergency preparedness. The supervisory authority was challenged to take a leading role in the process, and the trade unions want the activity to be seen in light of experiences from the Gulf of Mexico and the consequences and challenges this entails for the Norwegian shelf. OLF referred to their work on reviewing area emergency preparedness. It has taken time to get the project and finances up and running, and an expert will review the needs identified by a multipartite workgroup.

Ognedal pointed out that the PSA is informed of, but not directly involved in, the ongoing work in one of the companies. He emphasised that the operators are bound by existing consents, which cannot be changed as regards established area emergency preparedness without a new application for consent. He further assumed that activities in the area by companies and organisations must take place through multipartite cooperation.

The Safety Forum's agenda has previously included medical emergency preparedness. The PSA was also contacted by Helse Midt-Norge to hold a meeting to discuss the health-related emergency functions for the oil and gas activities in the Norwegian Sea. In this connection, they also desired to meet industry representatives in Safety Forum, together with the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision in Rogaland. The meeting was held on 1 September 2010. Safety Forum's members summarised the meeting as positive, as it identified matters of significance for medical emergency preparedness and other health-related matters relating to the petroleum industry. See minutes from the meeting.

Many issues – considerable involvement
Safety Forum reviews its docket for ongoing issues for which a running status is provided, such as for the lifeboat issue, chemical working environment, the working hours project, the cancer project and several other issues where the parties contribute with considerable involvement.