Don’t forget the working environment!

The energy sector is changing. Technological progress is extremely rapid, and expectations are high.

The industry must constantly adapt and master new solutions. The companies have to retain and build organisations which take care of safety and the working environment in a good way. 

Good results depend on a good working environment, on looking after the people who will create a positive future on behalf of us all.  

The working environment is part of the manager’s overall responsibility – don’t forget it.

The main issue for 2024 builds on the sum of many small concerns, explains PSA director general Anne Myhrvold.

“Our concerns relate to the fact that so much is happening so fast,” she says. “That includes big changes and greater complexity, a high level of activity and pressure on capacity and expertise, and digitalisation and the introduction of new technology.

“In addition come a greater proportion of temporary hires, changes to operating parameters and increased pressures. And people are being injured and made ill.

“We’re worried about the overall picture and the sum total. So it’s necessary to remind the companies that people are at the heart of the activities being pursued, and that the working environment isn’t something which can be given a lower priority."

Devote more attention

With a call to “don’t forget the working environment”, the PSA is asking the companies to devote more attention to this aspect and to the role of people. Myhrvold identifies two principal arguments for elevating the subject to a main issue.

“First, our Working Environment Act requires the companies to ensure that occupational health and safety form the basis for healthy and meaningful work. In other words, it’s not enough simply to prevent people getting sick.

“This Act also demands secure employment conditions, a good climate for speaking out, laying the basis for collaboration between employer and unions, and contributing to an inclusive working life. These in themselves are substantial and important requirements.

“A working environment isn’t about serving cake on Fridays, but how you organise, plan and execute work, noise, chemical exposure, psychosocial and organisational conditions, workloads, balancing between demands on and control over your own work, and so forth.”

Major accident risk

The second main argument advanced by Myhrvold is the link between the working environment and major accident risk, with the one playing an important role in preventing the other.

“In April 2023, we presented a study of well control incidents using data from our trends in risk level in the petroleum activity (RNNP) survey which showed that developments have not been positive over time,” she notes.

“This found that the number of such accidents has not declined noticeably in recent years. At the same time, it showed that knowledge of change management is important for preventing accidents.

“In that context, Equinor stated that a good working environment is fundamental for safety – and, more specifically, that a positive psychosocial working environment is a precondition for preventing major accidents.”

Myhrvold also says the 2024 main issue fits well with its 2023 predecessor – “for safe and stable energy processes, collectively and concurrently”. That concentrated attention on an integrated approach to safety, where the working environment is part of the picture.

“An example here is insider risk. Being able to manage and reduce this is crucially dependent on having a good working environment,” she points out.

Integrated thinking about risk

“Our main issue for 2024 emphasises the importance of integrated thinking about risk. Things hang together. We know that many considerations need to be taken into account, and that management in the companies is compelled to prioritise.

“But our message is clear – when setting priorities, don’t forget the working environment.”