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Positive response to PSA emergency preparedness study

Norway’s offshore workforce regards today’s emergency preparedness on the NCS as good – and a clear improvement from 10 years ago. The PSA’s inquiries and audits point in the same direction. The robustness of responses to emergencies on the NCS was addressed through a study launched by the PSA during 2008 to look at all aspects of this issue.

Two issues are not covered by the study, which was completed in December 2008:

  • lifeboat suitability, where extensive industry projects are currently under way along with a PSA inquiry
  • preparations for mass transfer of personnel when installations must be evacuated in extreme weather conditions, which is defined as a separate project at the PSA.

Also covering the issue of whether the effectiveness of such measures has improved or declined over the past decade, this survey has yielded encouraging results. One of its principal conclusions is that offshore workers consider preparedness to be clearly better than it was in the late 1990s.

That emerges partly from the poll held every other year as part of the PSA’s trends in risk level in the petroleum activity (RNNP) survey, which is included in the preparedness study. The improvement was perceived by all employee categories. These results represent an important part of the basis for concluding that contingency planning and emergency response on the NCS are good.

The study has aimed to clarify strengths and weaknesses and to measure the effect of improvements implemented over the past decade. Its assessments are based in part on analyses of audit reports and inquiries, results from the RNNP, data and statistics from the companies, incident information and interviews.

A number of emergency preparedness measures have had a positive impact on the perceptions of offshore workers.
Introducing area schemes which exploit shared resources such as standby vessels and search and rescue (SAR) helicopters has led to a particularly substantial improvement. Extensive efforts to improve the quality of such equipment as lifeboats and survival suits have also helped to make offshore personnel feel safer.

Over the past decade, too, awareness of and the attention given to safety have increased. That involves both the expertise of people in key response roles and the physical safety of front-line personnel involved in firefighting, first aid and the like.
Although results from the study are generally very positive, its conclusions also point to some improvement opportunities which the PSA intends to follow up.