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Must stretch to achieve a more inclusive workplace

Employers in the petroleum sector must do a better job of facilitating workplaces for persons on sick leave or persons who have reduced functionality. Experience from audits we have carried out shows that the situation is worse for contractor employees than for employees of operating companies.

Stor interesse og mange spørsmål fra salen. Foto: Roy Erling FurreOn Thursday, NAV Rogaland (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) focused on the connection between facilitation for individuals and systematic HSE work through the IA (Inclusive Workplace) program.

Since 2007, the PSA has worked with NAV Rogaland to promote a more inclusive workplace. The intention is to prevent expulsion of employees with reduced functionality.

This collaboration is also intended to contribute to a more comprehensive approach to prevention and follow-up of sick leave.

Offshore is no exception
"Basically, the rules of the Working Environment Act regarding facilitation of the workplace apply in full to the petroleum activities. In other words, facilitation cannot be rejected on a general basis by referring to the special conditions for work offshore," said Principal Engineer Irene B. Dahle at the joint seminar held by NAV and the PSA on Thursday, 26 March.

Together with Consultant Elin Bergsholm from the NAV employment centre in Rogaland, Dahle explained topics including regulatory requirements, the connection between various regulations, and experience from public agency cooperation in follow-up and facilitation work. NAV is responsible for managing the (Norwegian) National Insurance Act and the Letter of Intent with the parties regarding an Inclusive Workplace (IA).

Transferred to land
As regards follow-up of working environment and facilitation, experience gained in the PSA's audits indicates that the contractors fare worse than the operating companies.

"We see that contractor employees who become ill and require facilitation and adaptation are transferred to land. We also see that information about the scope and causes of sick leave are not utilized in the preventive work out on the facilities," said Dahle.

She went on to explain that the contractors do not have as good an overview over and follow-up of work-related illnesses compared with the operating companies, and that the operating companies consistently have more resources available for medical check-ups and monitoring.

Furthermore, the companies' occupational health services do not do as well when it comes to identifying contractor employees who need facilitation and adaptation as compared with operating companies.

Systematic management
"The PSA's role is to provide guidance and conduct audits of how the enterprises systematically manage the working environment. The PSA can use information obtained in individual cases, e.g. from NAV, to direct the audit activities," said Dahle.

She emphasises that the PSA follows up to ensure that the enterprises have established management systems that safeguard the regulatory requirements for facilitation and adaptation.

"We are also interested in ensuring that the enterprises have systems to capture lessons learned, so that follow-up of individuals has consequences for the systematic HSE work. The PSA asks whether the enterprises are able to identify groups that are at risk, and whether they have long-term, preventive work to avoid harm to health," said Dahle.

Experience offshore
Representatives from SAFE, Industri og Energi and OLF opened by telling about their experience with facilitation offshore.

Industry representatives (StatoilHydro, BIS Industrier, Semco Maritime and Sodexo) pointed out the challenges linked to facilitation and adaptation offshore, and how these challenges are handled.

Link to all presentations (in Norwegian only).

Contact in the PSA:
Irene B. Dahle
E-mail: ireneb.dahle@ptil.no