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Audit of risk understanding and competence in Aker Drilling

Audit: During the period 21-29 October 2009, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of risk understanding and competence on the part of managers and employees in Aker Drilling. We identified two nonconformities in relation to the regulations, as well as six areas where there is room for improvement.

The audit involved both the land organisation and the Aker Barents facility. A start-up meeting was held with the land organisation, focusing on the company's systems and governing documentation. Conversations were also held with the management regarding understanding of risk and measures aimed at creating a good safety culture.

Verifications during the audit on the Aker Barents facility targeted selected parts of the operation (marine operations, drilling, emergency preparedness and technical safety).

Background for the audit
The audit activity was a follow-up of an audit of Aker Drilling on 17 September 2008 aimed at capacity and competence, and an audit of the HSE management system on 23 September 2008.

Both of these audit activities were part of the PSA's processing of the company's applications for Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) for the Aker Spitsbergen and Aker Barents facilities.

The legal basis for the audit activity is found in Section 8 of the Framework Regulations on prudent petroleum activities, Section 9 on principles relating to risk reduction and Section 10 relating to organisation and competence.

Purpose of the audit
The purpose of the audit activity was to evaluate the company's work to ensure prudent risk understanding and competence in connection with planning, management, implementation and follow-up of operations on the shelf, with particular emphasis on safety-critical activities.

The audit team placed particular emphasis on evaluating how the company and the individual employee plan and safeguard elements that are important in a risk context, how good understanding of risk is communicated and incorporated in competence requirements, and how learning, barrier mindsets and risk understanding are verified and communications in the organisation and to subcontractors. 

Result of the audit
During the verification on Akers Barents, the audit team had a number of conversations with managers and employees focusing on understanding of risk and functional competence.
Aker Drilling has initiated a good and thorough familiarisation program for all of the positions on board as regards competence verification of own work processes and tasks.

The company's programme involving hired ”safety coaches”, in part to reinforce understanding of risk and to establish a good safety culture, emerged as being a good measure to promote safety.  

A system of observation cards was established and in the breaking-in phase. The observation cards covered both general deficiencies, undesirable/nonconforming behaviour and suggestions for improvement.
The "Aker check" was also introduced as a measure designed to promote safety measures relating to most work processes. This measure was also being established and was subject to continuous evaluation in relation to application and manner of operation.
Two nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements were noted, as well as six areas with potential for improvement.

Journal 2009/966 (document in Norwegian)