For the second year in a row, the PSA’s annual presentation was staged as a virtual session because of Norway’s coronavirus restrictions.
“We’re concerned about the possible long-term effects of the pandemic, particularly with regard to postponed maintenance and the psychosocial working environment,” said Myhrvold. “These therefore represent key issues in our supervisory activities.”
She called for the companies to continue conducting their own supervision and follow-up activities at the same time as they deal with the pandemic.
Myhrvold also emphasised the importance of genuine worker participation in and involvement with safety work, and highlighted two aspects in particular – the role of the safety delegate and work on standards.
“Safety delegates play a key role in ensuring that bipartite collaboration functions between employer and employees at the individual facility and plant,” she said. “Enough time and resources must be allocated for them to do their job.
“In order for the performance-based regulations to work, standards must be updated and further developed. The companies must ensure good involvement in and prioritise resources for this work.”
Following up nonconformities was an important area of activity for the PSA in 2021, and remains so in 2022.
“I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: nonconformities we identify through our audits must be corrected,” said Myhrvold. “It’s unacceptable when that doesn’t happen, and a breach of the trust-based system. If we uncover serious nonconformities which haven’t been corrected, we’ll use our enforcement powers.”
The PSA issued no less than 27 orders in 2021, a record. According to Ingvill Hagesæther, one of the PSA’s directors of supervisory activities, part of the reason for the increase was that a number of the 13 investigations initiated the year before were completed in 2021.
At the same time, she made it clear that the PSA is not slow to issue an order when it discovers that a company has failed to correct previously identified breaches of the regulations.
“We’ve said we’re going to react more sharply, and some of this increase is a result of that promise.”
The PSA will follow up nonconformities in all audits where this is relevant, and has also established a major task which will take a detailed look at nonconformity systems in six companies.
Other topics which will occupy a key place in follow-up by the supervisory authorities over the coming year include internal follow-up at the companies – particularly work by management on this issue – and maintenance. Hagesæther also highlighted temporary hires as a new area where the authorities will continue taking a closer look during 2022.
Q&A on temporary hires
The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has supervisory authority concerning many of the rules on temporary hiring of workers. Providing guidance on regulations is an important instrument for the PSA, which has therefore produced an overview of the most frequently asked questions in this area.
Read more: Questions and answers on temporary hires
Fewer serious incidents
Despite the record number of orders issued, 2021 witnessed a positive downward trend in the number of serious incidents.
“We still see many incidents being reported to us ,” said Hagesæther. “Our concern is that greater attention could then come to be paid to minor events, while major accidents are forgotten.
“Preventing a major accident is by far the most important consideration in this industry.”
The final picture related to serious accidents will first emerge with the report on trends in risk level in the petroleum activity (RNNP), which is due to be presented on 31 March 2022.
Main issue for 2022
The main issue from the PSA for 2022 is Capacity and competence – the key to safety.
This reflects the fact that lack of capacity and competence has been identified as nonconformities in a large number of audits and investigations conducted by the PSA.
At the same time, the future will be characterised by ageing infrastructure, automation, the introduction of new operating modes and projects related to new forms of energy. Safety work in such a complex industry calls for a high level of competence and good manning.
“Ensuring that good systems are in place to manage capacity and competence is a management responsibility,” observed Myhrvold. “Both individual companies and the sector as a while must work both right now and with an eye to the future to ensure that capacity and competence are in place.”
Learning from serious incidents
A big multiyear commitment will be launched by the PSA in 2022 aimed at follow-up of serious incidents in the petroleum industry.
Incidents are an important source of safety improvements. The Norwegian government has therefore appropriated NOK 17 million annually to help ensure that learning lessons from serious incidents gets even better.
“Knowledge is the key to improvement,” said Finn Carlsen, the PSA’s director of professional competence. “We’ll therefore being conducting a number of learning projects related to investigation methods, so that investigators have competence in the latest methods.
“In addition, it’s very important that the information is communicated to the users. Digital solutions and further development of those already in use by the PSA and the recipient side will be part of the commitment there.”
The industry is changing, with the companies investing heavily in such new areas as offshore wind power, CO2 transport and storage, and hydrogen. That also affects the PSA, which was recently given supervisory authority for offshore renewable energy (wind power).
“This responsibility has been delegated to us not only because we have unique expertise on and good experience of working with safety follow-up, but also because we have specialist knowledge in areas relevant for the new industries,” Myhrvold explains.
The PSA is well under way in developing new safety regulations for offshore renewable energy, in close dialogue with the parties in the Regulatory Forum.
These provisions build on experience from the petroleum sector and from other relevant sources, such as wind power on land in Norway and international regulation of offshore wind power.
Sigve Knudsen, the PSA’s director for legal and regulatory affairs, emphasised that the regulations for offshore renewables will be tailored for these activities – including where risk is concerned.
“Risk differs in this sector from the petroleum industry. At the same time, the regulations will ensure an acceptable implementation of these operations and a high level of safety.”