“The Norwegian model” – friend or foe?

It is often claimed recently, that the “Norwegian model” is being threatened, and needs to be defended. The three partite model (employers, unions, authorities) is described as the ideal goal for offshore health and safety.

But maybe this is not the “final solution”? it has been demonstrated repeatedly on the Norwegian offshore production installations, that about 60% of the hydrocarbon leaks with major hazard potential occur due to lack of compliance with steering documentation, procedures, instructions, work process descriptions, etc.

Especially in the companies where Norwegian culture is strong, this seems to be a challenge that has persisted for a long time, various measures have been tried out, but the problem appears never to disappear. One may speculate if the three partite cooperation may have opened up for a culture where it is acceptable to challenge steering documentation, and where respect for authorities is undermined. It appears that on some installations there is a culture whereby “silent deviations” are acceptable, if this is seen to cause less hassle or imply increased production. When such deviations from time to time coincide with unfortunate circumstances or failure of additional barriers, a hydrocarbon leak may be the surprising outcome!

Such culture may also be seen as a sign of lack of leadership or proper management, which is an additional burden. But this implies that with respect to management of major accident risk, the three partite model is far from sufficient to continuously reduce this risk exposure, which is one of the fundamental requirements of the legislation.

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