‘Fit-for-purpose’ investigations in the petroleum sector in Norway?

PSA’s investigation report from COSL Innovator accident on 30th of December 2015 puts again the focus on an issue that pops up periodically, should the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) still have the opportunity to investigate themselves?

The Accident Investigation Board Norway (SHT) has national responsibility for investigation of accidents and serious incidents in the aviation, road traffic, rail and shipping. Most people consider that their investigations and sound and detailed. Since SHT is independent, they can make recommendations both to businesses, authorities and regulations.

It has been suggested from time to time that SHT also should take over the investigation responsibility for the petroleum industry. The argument for this is that one will get an independent and professional investigation agency. PSA has not wanted to let go of the responsibility for investigations of serious incidents in the petroleum industry. The arguments have been that this is a natural part of their oversight activities and that it will provide valuable input to other oversight activities. But with the present organization, these investigations virtually never consider if the event should call for improvements of the regulations or of the implementation made by the authorities.

We think it is now time to change this organization. Maybe could a combination be the best alternative, whereby SHT investigated a few serious accidents or incidents per year, in cases where the authorities’ roles could be open for scrutiny. They could at the same time delegate to PSA to investigate important accidents and incidents where regulations need not be considered, and PSA could investigate these as before, and gain more or less the same advantages as per today.

A cronicle about this topic (in Norwegian) published in Dagens Næringsliv may be found here.

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