The use of Working Environment Area Chart (WEAC) offshore
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The biggest industry in Norway is the petroleum industry. The industry holds a high standard on health, environment and safety (HSE), but the work conducted offshore still involves potential risks. To continually improve the HSE-work, the operating companies must meet requirements from the prevailing regulations. To communicate risk it is important to consider how you adapt, design and formulate risk messages. Good risk communication is defined by well aimed information adapted to the receiver’s premises. Through good management, risk-factors can be handled so that they do not constitute unwanted risk to the health of the employees. The basic working environment charting is a systematic charting which are to be carried out when a new work place is designed and when an existing work place is being modified. The purpose is to ensure that the specific working environment requirements are fulfilled. According to NORSOK standard S-002, Working Environment Area Chart (WEAC) or similar must be used to document and improve the working environment. The objective of this standard is to make sure that the projecting and construction of an installation contribute to a good working environment in the operational phase. The main purpose of the report was to investigate the use of WEAC on offshore installations. We have, in collaboration with COSL Drilling Europe AS, looked at possibilities of improving the use of Working Environment Area Chart in the operational phase, as well as investigated possible ways of making individual risk aspects more visible. We performed a study of literature regarding the topics, and further we conducted interviews with people of different professional background in the petroleum industry. This was i.a. done by performing a questionnaire to create a picture of how these parties execute and make use of area and work position-based charting for the working environment, During the project we discovered that little information existed on the topic, and this made us rely most of our work on expert opinions and feedback. WEAC seems like a good tool with respect of geographical focuses, i.e. working environment in an area, but not so much for jointly working environment exposure on a group of workers. E.g. mechanics will carry out work in various areas, and this demands a different approach to collect information about their working environment exposure. It appears to be a handy tool when measuring quantitative working environment factors such as noise, illumination and temperature, but not so much with respect to qualitative factors as ergonomics and outdoor operations. This is because the qualitative factors are hard to put in concrete terms in the chart. A challenge with the local based information is to recover and trace historical documentation. In general, from the companies contacted in this project, the WEACs are controlled, updated and maintained by the onshore organization. There have been several attempts on developing useful IT-based tools in relation of storage and use of results of working environment charting. So far there has been little or no substantial success in covering this object in combination with practical use. From feedback received in the questionnaire, it seems like some of these specialized programs are too expertise demanding. Because of this they may demand a higher level of computerized competence to keep the documentation updated and maintained. The result of this may be that updating of the WEAC-system has to be carried out onshore. The best approach, in our opinion, is to make use of basic software, as for instance Microsoft Word or Excel, and to develop a supplement base-application with respect to storage and use of results of working environment charting. By utilize basic and well known software, one can achieve well aimed information adapted to the receivers’ premises. A Safe Job Analysis (SJA) may comply with the requirements in the NORSOK S-002 and the WEAC, and connect it to everyday situations. The WEAC is connected to a specific working area, while a SJA is carried out with respect to certain working procedures or operations. By making use of the WEAC during a SJA, one may also incorporate the exposure to local based working environment factors. It is our impression from working with the project that the WEAC is purely designed to meet authority requirements, and its targeted groups have not been taken into consideration with respect to user-friendliness. It is our opinion that the WEAC alone is not suitable as an information tool to make the workers aware of the dangers they are exposing themselves to. It is rather surprising that the NORSOK S-002 has been revised four times since 1994, but the WEAC has remained more or less exactly the same. Because of the seemingly lack of knowledge amongst quite a few of the people in the industry regarding WEAC, one could argue whether there should be conducted an authority campaign to investigate the use of WEAC and its user-friendliness.