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Report on safety delegates offshore

The report entitled "The Safety Delegate Offshore" provides a review of the situation for offshore safety delegates, as well as proposals for changes that could help improve the working situation for the offshore safety delegates.

The report, which is only available in Norwegian only, is based on experiences gathered at a workshop conducted earlier this year including representatives of the employees, safety delegates, main safety delegates, coordinating main safety delegates, line managers and HSE managers from various companies.

?All? types of companies from two different installations were represented, i.e. Norwegian and foreign operating companies, as well as Norwegian and foreign contractors and suppliers. There were also representatives of the Norwegian Oil and Petrochemical Workers' Union (NOPEF), the Federation of Oil Workers' Trade Union (OFS), the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) and the "Working Together for Safety" project.

SINTEF, NTNU and Rogaland Research are responsible for both the workshop and the report, along with the support of the Research Council of Norway..

Part of the commitment to HSE research
Based on the Storting White Paper on health, safety and the environment (HSE) in the petroleum activities (Storting White Paper No. 7, 2001-2002), the Ministry of Labor and Government Administration (AAD) took the initiative of establishing a research program as part of the work aimed at improving HSE in the industry.

The HSE Petroleum research program was initiated through the Research Council of Norway. The program deals with future challenges and solutions in the field of HSE in the petroleum industry.

The program is composed of four main modules in the form of four competence projects:

  • HSE culture
  • Change - organization - technology
  • Decision-making tools
  • Physical / chemical working environment and health

The intention of the research on health, safety and environment is, in part, to challenge the established perceptions of reality. Through this, the intention is to help the industry recognize, also in an economic perspective, that its interests are best served by investing in stable and safe production with a good working environment, with robust solutions and continuous focus on HSE work.

The report that deals with the safety delegate offshore is part of the competence project entitled "Change - Organization - Technology", which addresses changes in organizations and technology, and the impact such changes have on HSE in the industry.

Questionnaire in connection with the risk project
During the workshop, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway presented the results of the RNNS (Risk Level on the Norwegian Shelf) survey that were relevant for the discussion on the safety delegate system offshore. This presentation was made after a review of the general status of the safety delegates, but prior to the discussion of which measures could be implemented to improve working conditions for the safety delegates.

The RNNS results indicate that the safety delegates are regarded as doing a good job, and their input is taken seriously. It seems that the safety delegates have a more negative view of the psycho-social working environment than other employees. The same is true of their view of development opportunities, relationship to management and their perception of recognition of work done. The safety delegates are also less satisfied with the working pace and workload.

This shows that there is a need to examine the time and resources made available to the safety delegates, and to implement goal-oriented measures in groups that are struggling to get the system to function well.

A main feature of the work is that there is a considerable gap between management and safety delegates when it comes to the perception of the safety delegates' working situation. The safety delegates' daily existence is characterized by loyalty conflicts in relation to both management and colleagues. They experience a shortage of resources (time, participation in training, etc.).

There are differences in the importance of these challenges, based on whether the safety delegate is part of an operating company, a contracting company or a supplier. The challenges are clearer as one moves further "down" in the hierarchy of companies.

The report concludes that the dilemma of the safety delegates should be the subject of a serious dialogue between the parties, e.g. through the "Working for Safety" project, but also simultaneously within the companies and on the respective installations. Better compliance with the regulations is also needed. Other findings include a need for improving training and development of expertise for the safety delegates, as well as a need for participation when contracts are signed on the basis of the contract's significance for HSE conditions.

Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Paul Bang
E-mail: paul.bang@ptil.no