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Our role in diving operations

We are responsible for the regulation and supervision of occupational diving activities in the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf and at land-based terminals.

Our monitoring includes development of rules, revisions and verifications, processing documentation such as applications for consent, meetings with involved parties, and participation in industry and government forums at national and international level.

Regulations and diving 
HSE regulations apply fully to diving as to all other activities in the petroleum industry. The framework regulates the actual diving activities, and consequently shares boundaries with other legislation, such as when activities take place from a ship. Ships are also subject to maritime legislation. In practice this means that a diving operation, including all personnel involved in it, is subject to petroleum regulations, whereas the crew and operation of the ship are subject to the laws of the flag State.

Diving activities at land-based terminals are covered by the regulations of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority which apply within the jurisdiction of the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway under the interim regulation of 19 December 2003.

Emergency preparedness and response requirements for diving operations
Diving is a challenge to safety and is considered so physically and psychologically demanding that it can affect divers’ health. In order to reduce health risks, several special initiatives have been developed for diving activities in the petroleum industry. These include:

  • Health requirements
  • Requirement to report activities and incidents to the authorities
  • Requirement to obtain consent from the authorities
  • Inspection of activities
  • Emergency preparedness and response requirements

Emergency preparedness and response requirements for dealing with accidents and emergencies include 24-hour medical and equipment readiness, hyperbaric evacuation units (lifeboats with pressure equal to the pressure in the decompression chamber), and an emergency preparedness and response system that is easy to coordinate with public emergency response resources.

The consent system
The consent system for manned underwater operations was established in 1985. The purpose of the consent system is to ensure that operators can document to the authorities their ability to carry out diving operations in accordance with rules and regulations prior to starting a diving operation. We and Norwegian Board of Health process the consent applications and award joint consent.

In 2005 it became obligatory for all diving operations at land terminals to be reported to us.

Operational safety
During discussions for the Report to the Storting No. 47 (2001–2002) relating to the health risks of the people who pioneered diving in the North Sea, the Storting asked the government to produce a description of how diving is organised on the Norwegian shelf today. In addition a joint working group was set up under the auspices of the Safety Forum to take a closer look at these issues.

In the autumn of 2005 the working group presented a thorough description of diving activities on the Norwegian shelf after the first stage of petroleum operations, including proposals for specific measures for further monitoring of diving activities.

In its report the working group shares the opinion that current working conditions for divers in the petroleum industry are safe and that diving on the Norwegian shelf operates within the framework of legislation and is in accordance with current risk acceptance criteria for HSE.