§ 70 Exemptions
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the supervisory authorities as mentioned in Section 67 or other designated authority can grant exemptions from the provisions stipulated in or in pursuance of these regulations in their respective areas of authority when special circumstances exist, with the specifications that follow from Section 67.
If the exception could impact safety and the working environment, a statement from the employees' representatives shall be appended with the exemption application.
Section last changed: 17 June 2016
In the area of health, safety and working environment under the Working Environment Act, the health legislation and the Petroleum Act, the authorities may, on certain conditions, modify requirements that follow from the health, safety and environment legislation, or accept equivalent solutions other than those that follow from detailed requirements.
In the scope of the Pollution Control Act (in Norwegian only), there can, in special cases, be a need to tighten the requirements, e.g. in the event of new knowledge regarding possible environmental damage, increased pollution or when changed social conditions make this necessary. Where these needs for change are of a permanent nature, or where they affect larger parts of the activities, it will be natural to change the shape of the regulations. Such an option to, in some cases, tighten requirements on the basis of environmental considerations, reflects the premise in Section 18 of the Pollution Control Act (in Norwegian only) to change permits granted in pursuance of Section 11 of the Pollution Control Act (in Norwegian only) if it becomes evident that the harm or drawback presented by the pollution, is significantly larger or different than previously assumed.
The responsibility for operating prudently and in compliance with the regulations rests with the responsible party (the obligated party). This means that the obligated party is responsible for clarifying the immediate consequences of an identified nonconformity. In this context, nonconformities are a disagreement between chosen solutions and regulatory requirements. If the nonconformity is not of such a serious nature that it requires immediate shutdown, the responsible party must rectify the nonconformity as quickly as is practicable, cf. Section 22, including compensating measures, of the complementary Management Regulations. It will then normally not be necessary to apply for an exemption. For nonconformities that entail disproportionately high costs to deal with, it may however be necessary to apply for an exemption. This will apply to cases where the responsible party wishes to use another, documentable equivalent solution than that ensuing from a detailed requirement (not in the form of a functional requirement), or a solution that yields a lower level of health, safety and environment than ensues from the applicable regulatory requirement. Exemptions may be granted on the basis of an assessment as to whether there exist “special conditions” and that activities will continue to be conducted prudently. Exemptions are the authorities' decisions to accept a nonconformity in relation to a regulatory requirement.
For regulatory requirements in the form of functional requirements, reference is made to the guidelines regarding Sections 23 and 24 concerning the use of recognised standards. If a different, equivalent solution is desired than the one recommended in the guidelines regarding a functional requirement, it is not necessary to apply for an exemption. However, the responsible party shall carry out an internal assessment that clarifies whether the chosen solution fulfils the regulatory requirement. It follows from Section 22 of the complementary Management Regulations that the responsible party shall implement necessary compensatory measures to maintain a prudent level of health, safety and environment. Implementation of such compensatory measures can entail that the responsible party operates within the individual functional regulatory requirement, and thus does not need to apply for exemption.
Exemptions can be granted by the authorities through separate measures, or following application, and are conditional on the existence of “special conditions” and that activities will continue to be conducted prudently.
Any applications for exemption should normally contain
- an overview of the provisions from which exemption is sought,
- a statement of which special conditions that make the exception necessary or reasonable,
- a statement of how the exemption case has been handled internally in the enterprise,
- a description of the nonconformity and the planned duration of the nonconformity,
- a statement of the nonconformity's individual and overall risk, both for own and other activities,
- a description of any measures that, in whole or in part, will compensate for the nonconformity,
- a description of any measures to correct the nonconformity.
The second subsection is a continuation of current law in the area of safety and working environment under the Working Environment Act and the Petroleum Act for exemptions that are of significance for the employees' safety. Employee representatives means a wide interpretation of employee representatives, i.e. both trade union representatives, safety delegates, representatives in working environment committees, etc., depending on the individual matter.
Offshore petroleum activities
If an exemption has been granted in relation to mobile facilities, as a point of departure it will not be necessary to apply for a renewed exemption for the same matter in connection with application for new consent. However, the operator shall assess whether it is prudent to operate with previously granted exemptions and whether changed assumptions have presented themselves that necessitate a new application for exemption. Reference is made to Section 26 of the complementary Management Regulations, which states that an overview shall be provided of previously approved exemptions for the mobile facility when consent is applied for.