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Tripartite cooperation

Who is responsible for safety?

A clear division of roles and responsibilities is crucial for work on safety and the working environment in the Norwegian oil and gas industry.

Each company is responsible for the safety of its own operations. This represents a fundamental principle in the petroleum regulations.

That is because the detailed knowledge, decision-making authority and not least the resources needed to ensure compliance with the regulatory requirements rest with each individual player.

Licensees who have been awarded production licences on the Norwegian continental shelf are carefully assessed in advance – in part for their expertise, capacity and willingness to discharge this responsibility.

Both the regulations and their enforcement are therefore structured to support the sense of responsibility at the companies.

“See to it” duty

The operator has a particular duty to see to it that everyone doing work on its behalf complies with the requirements specified in the HSE regulations and conducts its activities in a prudent manner.

This “see to it” duty comes in addition to each player’s responsibility for complying with the regulations, and is a general and overriding obligation to follow up.

The operator’s management system must make it clear how the “see to it” duty is to be discharged.

What must licensees do?

The “see to it” duty also rests on the other licensees, who must provide for the operator to carry out its work and ensure that it does so in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

A licensee has a responsibility to take action if it uncovers conditions which fail to comply with the regulations.

What is the government’s responsibility?

We define the parameters for the industry and follow up that its activities are pursued in a prudent manner. Our duties involve continuous development of the regulations, monitoring that the companies are complying with the requirements, and making appropriate use of our enforcement powers in the event of regulatory breaches.

The government is responsible for ensuring an integrated approach to regulating the industry, and we are concerned to ensure that regulatory developments keep pace with general trends in these activities. We also have a responsibility for assessing whether the standards referred to in the regulations are good enough.

We place great emphasis on communicating knowledge about risk. Experience transfer and reinforcing the accountability of the players are important goals for our overall follow-up of HSE in the petroleum sector.

What are the limits to government responsibility?

A fundamental principle is that the government cannot inspect safety into the industry. The industry itself is responsible for pursuing its activities prudently and in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

The division of responsibility in the petroleum sector is crystal-clear – the player who owns the risk also owns the responsibility for dealing with it.

It is neither possible nor desirable for the government to regulate the industry in detail. One effect of detailed regulation could be to undermine the sense of responsibility at the companies.

What responsibility rests with the workforce?

Workers in the industry have an important role to play in safety work, one which both confers rights and imposes duties.

The companies must lay the basis for genuine worker participation, and ensure that structures enshrined in legislation – such as the working environment committee and the safety delegate service – are used in a good and constructive manner.

What is the goal of worker participation?

Worker participation (or industrial democracy) is a regulatory requirement in Norway. The principle is that the party exposed to risk should participate in decisions related to HSE.

One aim is to use the overall knowledge and experience of the workforce to ensure that issues are adequately clarified before decisions are taken. Safety delegates and members of the working environment committees have a special role in this respect.

Why is worker participation important?

Norway’s regulations for the petroleum industry are largely based on performance-based requirements, and specify which safety level is to be achieved, but not how this should be done.

The companies have great freedom to choose how they are to meet the regulatory requirements, which means that a number of solutions are determined at local level. That emphasises the importance of all sides having a genuine opportunity to be heard.

How does worker participation help to strengthen safety?

Where companies have a good climate of cooperation and genuine worker participation, we see that such collaboration makes a positive contribution to work on HSE.

Employees contribute to management securing a good basis for difficult decisions. Once a choice has been made, too, measures will be implemented more quickly.