Safe evacuation under all weather conditions
Emergency preparedness equipment and means of evacuation - such as suits, rescue stockings and lifeboats - must meet regulatory requirements which are normative with functional requirements. This means that the regulations indicate which safety level must be reached - not how.
The regulatory requirements for means of evacuation entail that it must be possible to evacuate personnel on facilities quickly and efficiently to a safe area under all weather conditions.
Free fall lifeboats, supplemented by rescue stockings and associated life rafts shall be used as means of evacuation for evacuation to sea.
Lifeboats on the Norwegian shelf:
in June 2005, a skid-launched type lifeboat was damaged during a test at Veslefrikk B. Since then, the industry has worked to improve the free-fall lifeboats on the Norwegian shelf, primarily under the auspices of the Norwegian Oil Industry Association's (OLF) lifeboat project.
The lifeboat project has identified several weaknesses on existing lifeboats as the project has progressed.
The owners of the lifeboats – i.e. the operator/shipowner - have an overall responsibility for ensuring that the equipment being used is suited to the purpose and meets the functional regulatory requirements.
The regulations states that the party responsible must ensure that the necessary measures are taken as quickly as possible in hazard and accident situations … so that the personnel on the facility can be evacuated quickly and efficiently at all times.
An important part of the precautionary principle is that the individual operator and/or shipowner must immediately implement necessary compensating measures when, for example, weaknesses associated with lifeboats are uncovered. The precautionary principle also entails that measures must be considered - and possibly implemented - if there is uncertainty related to use of the lifeboats under given wind and wave conditions.
In spite of identified weaknesses, the PSA still considers free-fall lifeboats the best currently available technology in the field of lifeboat evacuation on the Norwegian shelf. In comparison, more time is needed to launch conventional lifeboats which are lowered down to the sea. In addition, only the boat's own engine power moves the lowered lifeboat away from the facility being evacuated.
The lifeboats' suitability as means of evacuation depends on the operators and shipowners complying with the regulatory requirements related to a precautionary attitude when uncertainty or new knowledge exists.
The PSA is therefore concerned with the owners of the lifeboats at all times incorporating experience gathered by, for example, OLF's lifeboat project, and that measures which ensure compliance with the regulatory requirements for prudent operations under all weather conditions are immediately implemented.