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MP groups at particular risk

Much of the PSA’s work in this area was directed in 2013 at groups of drilling and well workers, with the principal emphasis on floating units.

A number of weaknesses were uncovered, not least in what individual companies know about working environment risk and how operators involve themselves with contractors.

In a special audit activity, groups comprising operator, drilling contractor and well service company were put together.

They mapped the working environment, evaluated risk with consequent risk reducing measures and assessed how various operating parameters could be significant for risk and its management.

A total of eight operators, 11 drilling contractors and 11 well service companies took part in this broad-based activity. They included small players who had not previously been in contact with the PSA.

Results included the following.

  • The companies have limited knowledge of the actual working environment risk, and lack the ability to secure a qualified basis for risk-reduction measures. Generally speaking, these deficiencies are greatest at drilling contractors and well service companies.
  • The division of responsibility between these three parties is not always equally and uniformly understood, and their collaboration is insufficient to ensure coordinated mapping, risk assessment and prioritisation of improvement measures. Information on risk is not communicated actively between the parties involved.
  • Operator companies have little involvement in follow-up of groups at particular risk at their contractors, and are poorly informed about work environment risk on mobile units.
  • The emphasis on productivity targets by the operator companies in following up their contractors can put pressure on time, with negative consequences for safety.
  • The PSA has met a large number of players, both individually and collectively, in the drilling and well segment. It has communicated the results of its audit activities and will continue to do this in strategic arenas during 2015.
  • Through self-assessments and the PSA’s feedback, the companies have recognised the weaknesses and have taken initiatives to achieve improvements.

Scaffolders and personnel groups involves in removing facilities have been covered by audit activities with a focus on groups at particular risk.

These have allowed the PSA to looks at the way contract workers, particularly in the insulation, scaffolding and surface treatment (ISS) trades, are followed up as part of systematic HSE efforts.

Contract personnel
The PSA’s audit activities helped to highlight contract personnel as a group, and resulted in more attention being paid to the challenges of following them up.

Particular attention has been paid to the issue of clarifying roles and responsibilities between operator, labour hirer and labour leasing company in following up these groups.

Together with the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, the PSA has launched a research project with the Fafo and Sintef institutes in this area.

This aims to enhance knowledge about safety and the working environment for contract personnel in the petroleum sector and related industries coming under the Labour Inspection Authority.

Noise was the working environment factor which received the greatest attention in 2013, and was followed up most closely in connection with audits, acknowledgements of compliance (AoCs) and consents.

The PSA has participated as an observer in the industry’s noise project, which ended at the beginning of 2013.

At the initiative of the PSA and the Labour Inspection Authority, the National Institute for Occupational Health (Stami) conducted a project in 2013 to learn more about the relationship between noise at work and the development of hearing damage.

Chemical working environment
The PSA conducted a questionnaire survey in 2013 to learn more about the effect of the improvement project on the chemical working environment run by the industry from 2007 to 2012.

In addition to company managements, the study covered chief safety delegates and working environment committees offshore and on land.

The unanimous response was that commitment in this area has increased and that the industry has strengthened its expertise base.

However, the survey would appear to have uncovered conditions posing a potential risk which have not been followed up by qualified mapping, risk assessment and measures. The companies report backlogs.

It is also interesting to note that the involvement by working environment committees has been limited. So has their knowledge of the industry project and follow-up at facilities.

New technology
Through various methodologies and instruments, the PSA has contributed to the adoption of new technology for the treatment of drilling mud.

This solution appears to provide substantial improvements for noise and vibration, chemical exposure and physical workload, and represent a long awaited advance for a large group of workers.