The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has taken a particular look in recent years at management and follow-up of psychosocial and organisational risk by the companies. Special emphasis has been given to the way such aspects are viewed in relation to other working environment factors, such as ergonomics and the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. This follow-up also forms part of the PSA’s work related to the inclusive workplace (IA) initiative.

Regulatory requirements

Section 35 of the activities regulations describes psychosocial aspects as factors which can influence the health and safety of employees. Examples may include the interaction between requirements for work performance, employee perception of control over their own work, and social support in the working environment.

Through its audits, the PSA has identified conditions which could significantly affect the psychosocial and organisational working environment. It has seen examples of companies characterised by

  • a high workload, low manning and working-time arrangements under pressure
  • uncertainty among offshore personnel over the effect of changes on land for their operations
  • challenges related to planning and prioritisation of assignments
  • changed roles and responsibilities related to the implementation of new forms of organisation and collaboration
  • increased requirements for expertise, education and training when new technology is introduced.

The PSA will continue to follow up company risk management processes. This will include such elements as setting goals, understanding risk, following up measures and actions, and learning and evaluation.

What must the companies do?

If management of the psychosocial and organisational working environment is to function as intended, it must be integrated in the other processes for managing working environment risk.

Risk management

The owner of the risk is responsible for dealing with it. That also applies to work on psychosocial and organisational conditions. A good risk management process is integrated and comprehensive, and has an appropriate decision base which is in place ahead of the decision.

The PSA’s audits have revealed weaknesses in the way companies follow up the psychosocial working environment. Surveys or action strategies largely lack a foundation in risk models and in established knowledge about which factors are decisive for the risk of health damage or for negative effects on work performance or operational safety.


The regulations require working environment improvements when a high level of risk has been identified. It is therefore important to have good processes for identifying the need for improvement and the ability to follow up in order to reduce risk. That also includes the psychosocial and organisational working environment.

Companies must have specific action plans, which identify who is responsible for what and show a “red thread” running from the results of assessment to measures.

The PSA expects the companies to be able to document how they have used their risk analyses to draw up plans for improvement and action.

Worker participation and communication

Participation by employees, both end-users and the safety delegate service, is crucial in promoting a well-functioning working environment. Nevertheless, employees in the companies are often not sufficiently involved when improvement measures are identified and planned.

Such action must be based on local knowledge of the working environment. Employees are the people who know their working environment best, and will thereby be the most qualified to shape improvement measures.

Good improvement processes are characterised by two-way communication, where the message is communicated clearly and concisely, and where understanding and acceptance of the message’s content is demonstrated.

A manager who actively requests suggestions will not only motivate their personnel but also secure valuable help with work on the psychosocial and organisational working environment.

Working environment committee

In order to obtain all relevant suggestions, employee knowledge and experience must be utilised to ensure that risk is sufficiently clarified before decisions are taken. A company should make active use of its working environment committee (AMU) in following up the psychosocial and organisational working environment. Acceptance and understanding of goals and measures can only be achieved through collaboration.


In the PSA’s experience, managers and employees often lack the competence required to plan and follow up the psychosocial and organisational working environment. Furthermore, it sees that working-environment training pays little attention to psychosocial and organisational risk management.

The PSA’s follow-up seeks to ensure that working environment training devotes sufficient attention to risk prevention and includes, for example, such factors as workload, roles and responsibilities, control and management support. This will equip managers, employees and their representatives to understand and exercise their responsibility for psychosocial risk management.