The chemicals project, carried out between 2007 and 2012, came about when the PSA's review of corporate practice in the area showed that the companies were exercising inadequate risk management. All the industry participants concerned, from both employer and employee sides, therefore joined forces in a major chemicals project with a view to assisting in improvements.
In the wake of the project, the PSA wondered whether there were real improvements in this area, and therefore carried out a questionnaire-based survey aimed at operating companies with offshore and onshore facilities in operation. Management, coordinating senior safety delegates and a total of 31 working environment committees took part in the survey.
According to PSA head of section, Sigve Knudsen, both the survey questionnaire and experience from audits in the area show that the companies still have a lot of work to do in terms of performing qualified mapping and risk assessment of chemical working environments.
"It appears as if the companies were proactive for a period in finding out what should be done in the area but when it comes to actual execution they have underperformed", he says.
"We would have liked to have seen more diligent occupational hygiene fieldwork, clearer conclusions about risks and better cooperation between the companies in developing knowledge of chemical exposure and effective measures.
Conversely, we note that there have been positive trends in certain areas. New technologies have been developed which yield significant improvements in working conditions, for example in the cleaning of drilling mud. I believe that the industry's chemicals project may have been particularly significant for this development."