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The PSA's evaluation of self-righting requirements for survival suits

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has evaluated requirements for self-righting of survival suits as the norm for personnel in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf. We have not found a basis for introducing such requirements.


In identical letters sent by the PSA to the industry on 18 July 2006 regarding requirements for survival suits, the PSA and the Norwegian Maritime Directorate called for a broader factual basis in order to make a decision on a potential change to the reference norm as regards a requirement for self-righting survival suits (immersion suits) for use in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf.

The Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF), the Norwegian Shipowners' Association and the employee organizations have subsequently implemented a joint project to examine the suitability of self-righting survival suits in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf.

In an information meeting held at the PSA's offices on 28 November 2007, representatives from OLF and the employee organization IndustriEnergi (IE) concluded that the technical solutions for self-righting that were developed for the immersion suit were not adequately adapted to the special conditions that prevail in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Reference was made particularly to the drawbacks associated with helicopter transport, the significant height of fall from many facilities, difficulties in getting onto liferafts in turbulent weather, as well as the fact that no statistics can confirm incidents during which unconscious persons have fallen over board from petroleum facilities on the Norwegian shelf or abroad in which self-righting suits could have contributed to rescue.

It was also asserted in this meeting that self-righting immersion suits would not contribute to increased personal safety but would, on the contrary, create uncertainty among offshore personnel in the petroleum activities as regards the suits' adequacy in critical situations.

Immersion suits adapted to cold water have been chosen as personal rescue equipment in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf.  According to the study carried out under the direction of OLF, the self-righting requirement does not appear to be adapted to this type of suit, or the design conditions in Norwegian petroleum activities.

Due to the above, the PSA sees no basis on which to introduce a requirement for self-righting survival suits for personnel involved in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf.

Contact in the PSA
Hilda Kjeldstad
E-mail: Hilda.Kjeldstad@ptil.no