The Weekly Reflektion 06/2024

Reflekt’s main theme is learning from major accidents and the Weekly Reflektions are our way of communicating stories that we hope will help to prevent future events that could develop into a major accident. A major accident is characterised by a single incident with multiple fatalities, significant environmental impact and/or substantial financial losses. The event often generates outrage that drives the process to investigate and learn. When the consequences are spread over several incidents and a long period, the outrage is less, and the learning process is often diminished. The responsibility for preventing harm is still however the same.

Are you aware of the consequences of not providing a safe and healthy working environment for your people?

The Norwegian Ocean Industry Authority (Havtil), formerly Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), main theme for 2024 is ‘don’t forget the working environment!’. Havtil is asking the companies to pay more attention to people and the role of the working environment. Havtil emphasise the following key factors.

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.

Industrial injuries related to a poor working environment cause suffering to the affected people and are a significant societal cost. Hearing loss and impairment from high noise levels in the workplace; leukaemia, lung and bladder cancer from exposure to high benzene levels; joint and back problems from difficult working positions and heavy lifting, are examples of such injuries. Knowledge and understanding of how the working environment affects the health and welfare of people is becoming better. Design of equipment and systems is carried out with an intention to reduce the effect of working environmental factors. Equipment that provides personal protection during work where people are exposed to environmental factors is improving. Appliances are being developed that reduce the potential exposure to environmental factors. 

The above picture is a lifting appliance to assist people with lifting of pipes, valves, etc. in classified areas offshore and onshore. These appliances not only reduce the ergonomic risk, but they can also reduce the cost of the activity since the use scaffolding can be reduced or may not be required. Dare we say a win-win situation. 

The exposure limit for benzene is 0,12 ppm for a working shift of 12 hours. The occupational limit recommended by the EU committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) is 0.05 parts per million and this is based on the scientific evidence that exposure to less that this limit will not cause harm to people. The limit is continually being assessed as scientific evidence is reviewed and public perception changes. 

Operators of facilities are required to measure noise and ensure areas with high levels have adequate signs to ensure people use protective equipment. There is also an inherent requirement to reduce noise and improve noise protection. 

Companies have a responsibility to reduce the working environment risk for people working on their facilities. They also have a responsibility to ensure people have the necessary training and information on the risk, and how they implement the appropriate measures to protect themselves from working environment hazards. It’s not just disasters that injure and kill people.

Reflekt AS