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§ 4 Application of the Working Environment Act in offshore petroleum activities in accordance with Section 1-3, third subsection of the Working Environment Act

The Working Environment Act and these regulations apply to manned underwater operations in the petroleum activities which are carried out from vessels or facilities, provided no special rules have been stipulated.
Vessels with offshore gangways can be used for accommodation of employees working on simpler facilities. The Working Environment Act and these regulations apply to these workers, even when they are accommodated on this type of vessel.
The following are exempt from the Working Environment Act and provisions in these regulations, which are laid down in pursuance of the Working Environment Act:
  1. supply, standby and anchor handling services with vessels, seismic or geological surveys involving vessels and other comparable activities, which are considered shipping,
  2. vessels carrying out construction, pipelaying or maintenance activities in the petroleum activities, unless otherwise stipulated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs through regulations or administrative decisions.
Section last changed: 01 January 2011

The preparatory works for the Petroleum Act and the practice that has developed in connection with the Petroleum Act, will form the basis for interpretations of the scope of the Working Environment Act in the petroleum activities.
Like the Petroleum Act, the Working Environment Act will apply to facilities in the petroleum activities. The term facility is the same as is used in the Petroleum Act, cf. the definition in Section 1-6, litera d of the Petroleum Act. The Working Environment Act has a different, narrower application for vessels than the Petroleum Act, but in the determination of what constitutes a facility and what constitutes a vessel, the same criteria as follow from the petroleum legislation form the basis. Reference is here made to the delimitation in the Petroleum Act in connection with Section 1-4 cf. Section 1-6 litera c, which further limits what vessels can be considered supply and standby vessels, cf. Odelsting Proposition No. 43 (1995-1996), pages 27 and 28. The term includes, in addition to vessels that transport personnel and equipment, crane barges and other service vessels, vessels used to carry out manned underwater operations, pipe-laying vessels, vessels that carry out seismic surveys, etc. On the other hand, e.g. mobile drilling facilities, drilling or production vessels, flotels, etc. will clearly be covered by the term facility. As follows from the second subsection, however, certain restrictions have been set in the actual scope in relation to the Petroleum Act, which entails that the Working Environment Act will have a somewhat more limited application as regards the vessel function.
The execution of manned underwater operations from vessels or facilities, cf. first subsection, is an important part of the work operations that comprise the ordinary petroleum activities. The employees that participate in diving operations, make up a unified group in a regulatory context. The supplementary Activities Regulations include e.g. more detailed provisions regarding time periods during execution of manned underwater operations. Manned underwater operations in the petroleum activities are covered by the provisions in the Working Environment Act.
The second subsection clarifies that the Working Environment Act applies to employees working on simpler facilities, even when they reside on vessels as mentioned in the subsection. In this connection, the vessels are not to be regarded as facilities, cf. the definition of these in Section 6. The scope of the Working Environment Act for the employees staying on the vessel, is bounded by the scope of the Ship Work Act as described in Section 1-2 (in Norwegian only). The delimitation is independent of the vessel's nationality. The provision does not lead to changes in the scope of regulatory provisions in pursuance of the other underlying acts for these regulations.
Definition of what can be considered as simpler facilities, follows from Section 3 of the Facilities Regulations. Employees working on simpler facilities, are expected to mainly have short periods of stay on this type of vessel, such as during transport to and from the simpler facility and accommodation. For further provisions on working environment for accommodation on vessels with offshore gangways, see Section 18 of the Management Regulations. This does not imply technical work environment requirements for the design of this type of vessel.
The third subsection, litera a specifies that execution of supply, emergency preparedness and anchor handling services by vessels, seismic or geological surveys by vessels, and other comparable activities, are considered shipping. The Working Environment Act and these regulations with supplementary regulations are not applied to the aforementioned vessels executing such activities. The emphasis is included to clarify that the activities carried out with these vessels, do not fall under the Working Environment Act.
The third subsection, litera b specifies that the Working Environment Act is not applied to vessels executing construction, pipelaying or maintenance activities in the petroleum activities. This provision, as earlier, contains an opening for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, through regulations or administrative decision, to decide that the Working Environment Act and these regulations with supplementary regulations will be applicable, in whole or in part, for the function of these vessels when they are used in the petroleum activities. The legal basis was, at the time, included because this type of activity can, sometimes, be very integrated in the other petroleum activities that take place within an area, and also have a duration that indicates equal regulation as the other petroleum activities. It is presumed that the possibility to make such decisions shall only be used in special cases. The term "affected parties" will necessarily be interpreted broadly. This includes both public agencies and affected private organisations on the employer and employee side.