The setting up of the working group was proposed by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate with the intention of giving views on pipe handling in connection with the coming revision of the regulations, and as a respond to the fact that users of the current regulations tended to interpret the pipe handling provisions differently.
The main task has been to identify health and safety trends and developments in connection with pipe handling, and to relate this to the development of regulations and equipment or technology. In addition, to offer recommendations to said revision of the regulations.
- The introduction of remotely operated pipe handling equipment has contributed to improving the safety and enhancing the quality of the working environment, but it looks as if the effect with respect to safety has been reduced and has flattened over the last few years. The improvement is still considered significant, though.
- No other country has similar provisions on remotely operated pipe handling.
- Injuries for drilling personnel follows the same trend as is generally found for all petroleum activities offshore, but the number of injuries for this group of personnel is lower than the average value for all personnel engaged in the petroleum activities.
- In the future, fabrication and installation of pipe handling systems must reflect totality thinking and total concept solutions to a much larger degree than today. Health, safety and working environment for the individual drilling crew worker and the risk of the entire drilling operation must be considered together, so that all aspects will be attended to in the best possible way.
In the period from 1980 to 1990, there was a clear reduction in the number of injuries related to pipe handling. This reduction is mainly a result of more focussing on safety and of introducing remotely operated pipe handling. The development in the period from 1991 to 1998 shows a flattening of the downward trend in personal injuries, but the severity of the injuries is less severe than before. There is also a change in the type of injuries and in the personnel categories being injured.
As regards work-related diseases, the available data are insufficient to reach clear conclusions in the way that it was possible for personal injuries.
Generally, the working environment has been improved in the period, especially within ergonomics and work organising. Much of the improvement can be attributed to changed attitudes to safety and working environment.
- The provisions on pipe handling should, in the main, be continued as before.
- New builds should be arranged for use of proven and available technology so that they, within a certain time, can fulfil the intentions of the provisions on remote handling.
- Existing units should aim at optimising installed pipe handling equipment in order to ensure maximum beneficial effects with respect to health, safety and working environment.
- Provisions should address companies' planning of material handling, including pipe handling, in order to achieve optimum solutions with respect to safety and operation. This may result in make-up or breakout of equipment taking place in other places than on the drill floor.
- One should consider carefully the implications of entering into force provisions on use of new technology before it is developed and available in the market.
- Application of thread compound, handling and make-up or breakout of drill bits, thread protectors, subs, large pipe dimensions and other special equipment should not be required by the pipe handling provisions before proven technology is available.
- One should work with harmonisation of regulatory requirements to petroleum activities in the North Sea.
- See chapter 8 for further recommendations