The PSA published a study in 2016 which summed up deficiencies identified through audits and other contact with players in the industry. These included failure to involve safety delegates in the right issues, bring them in them early enough, provide them with sufficient training, and give them enough time to pursue their safety delegate work.
Read more: study of employee participation and inter-party collaboration. (In Norwegian only)
Since 2016, the PSA has continued to devote attention to this area in a number of different ways.
Information and guidance
The view of the position acquired by the PSA from the 2016 summation was reinforced in 2018 by a report it commissioned from the International Research Institute of Stavanger (Iris) and Fafo.
As part of its guidance, the PSA drew up a checklist in 2019 for use in efforts to make provision for employee participation. It can be used by both employers and employees. The PSA holds meetings annually with the largest unions in the industry and the forum for coordinating chief safety delegates. This provides valuable insights which supplements information it receives from individual companies. That knowledge is passed on through audits as well as meetings at company level and in sector fora.
Employee participation has also been a subject in the tripartite Safety Forum. The latter prepared a report in 2019 on responsibility, roles and models for bipartite (employers and employees) and tripartite (employers, employees and government) collaboration in the petroleum industry. This also presented recommendations and measures which have subsequently been pursued by the forum. https://www.ptil.no/trepartsamarbeid/sikkerhetsforum/rapporter/ansvar-roller-og-samarbeidsmodeller---sikkerhetsforum-2019/
Employee participation is an integrated part of the PSA’s supervision. It always makes provision for separate meetings with the safety delegate(s) when on a facility or at a plant. In the PSA’s meetings with the company, the safety service is generally represented, regardless of the subject. Employee participation is also a separate topic in many different audits, and nonconformities from section 13 of the framework regulations are still being identified.
Section 13 of the framework regulations on facilitating employee participation: “The responsible party shall ensure that the employees and their elected representatives are given the opportunity to participate in matters of importance for the working environment and safety in the petroleum activities, according to requirements stipulated by and pursuant to the Working Environment Act and these regulations. Such participation shall be ensured in all the various phases of the activities.”
One example is the audit of Equinor and the company’s own follow-up in 2020. In the audit, the PSA identified deficiencies in facilitating employee participation in the company, and issued an order to Equinor to verify that the regulatory requirements were being complied with. This order was on the agenda at meetings throughout 2021. Equinor will have completed all the measures covered by the order by the beginning of 2022.
When the PSA identifies nonconformities related to employee participation, measures are initiated in the company concerned. As a result of the 2020 order, Equinor established an internal bipartite group to draw up a plan and initiate measures. Agreement prevails between the parties on these measures, and work on implementing them is under way. This has helped to clarify expectations and to reach agreement on the rules of the game in Equinor, and represents a clear improvement.
The PSA’s supervision of and guidance on employee participation at psa.no, in meetings and otherwise in various arenas help to ensure that this subject receives attention. Improved understanding of such participation and the importance of structured collaboration has been observed in a number of companies in recent years. Nevertheless, many audit findings and whistleblowing reports indicate that safety delegates face the same challenges identified earlier by the PSA. It has seen that companies typically lack systematic follow-up of the way employee participation functions in their own organisation.
This article is taken from the PSA’s annual report for 2021 to the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion. Access the whole report here (in Norwegian only, English summary).