November 11, 2020

PSA-report shows increased number of unwanted crane related incidents on the Norwegian continental shelf

Use of new crane system technology could have a positive impact on these numbers, CEO argues.

The «Risk Levels on the Norwegian Continental Shelf»-report from the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has been published on a yearly basis since 1999. The report act as an official indicator of the safety level across all sections of the Norwegian petroleum industry.

The 2019-report shows a decreasing total amount of unwanted incidents across all sections and areas of the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf, but, alarmingly, the number of unwanted incidents related to crane operations has hit a record high in 2019. The yearly amount of unwanted crane related incidents has also steadily increased since records began in 2013.

Summarized, what the most important numbers from 2019 reveal are the following:

  1. 2019 saw a record high number of reported, unwanted incidents related to crane operations from fixed installations offshore. The number of reported incidents from offshore mobile lifting installations increased from 2017 to 2018 and rose further in 2019. The normalised number of incidents in 2019 was higher than all previous years.
  2. Unwanted incidents involving the use of offshore cranes rose from 2018 to 2019 and were higher than any previous year in 2019.
  3. Unwanted incidents without personnel injury – but with the potential for individual injury – also increased severely in 2019. The trend possibly indicating better planning of lifting operations with fewer exposed persons to unwanted incidents, was clearly broken in 2019.
  4. Reported incidents of falling objects from lifting operations increased severely in 2019 with 89 incidents in total. Except for the years 2013-2016, the total amounts of reported incidents of falling objects per year has more than doubled since 2013.

In total, 695 unwanted incidents related to crane operations has been reported to the PSA since 2013, where 79 of the incidents has led to different levels of personnel injuries (11%).

The average annual number of unwanted incidents since 2013 is 115, and the total amount of unwanted incidents in 2019 were 145 since records began in 2013.

CEO: – New technology could reduce incidents significantly

Camilla Nylund, Optilift CEO, is convinced that new crane technology may help reduce the rising numbers of unwanted crane related incidents

New crane solutions such as auto hook, assistance- and safety systems, remote control and future autonomy, Nylund argue, would create a safer and more controlled lifting operation, as both personnel could be removed from potentially hazardous lifting zones, and the lifting operation itself put into more controlled forms.

– Based on the 2019 RLNS-report, crane related operations are now clearly the most worrying operational areas in the oil and gas industry when it comes to safety, she states.

In the 2019 RLNS-report «operational circumstances» are addressed as the major underlying cause of the vast majority of the unwanted incidents (67%).

-This indicates that a safer and more controlled operational approach to offshore lifting operations including technological barriers could bring much better results, and increase safety within offshore lifting, both for the personnel and the equipment she elaborates.

– The crane industry is conservative. Maybe now is the time for the industry to embrace new technology to achieve increased  safety related to both onshore and offshore crane operations.

PSA Norway: – Worrying safety levels

PSA Norway (Ptil) now calls for the companies themselves to prioritize work in order to enhance the safety levels both internally and in field while performing lifts. The government agency labels the numbers showing a steady increase in unwanted crane related incidents “worrying”.

– Historically, crane- and lifting operations has been an overrepresented cause of personnel injuries, and the increasing numbers of unwanted incidents related to crane operations is a concern for PSA. We monitor the work the companies do themselves to prevent unwanted incidents, and removing people from the lifting site could clearly reduce unwanted incidents involving personnel, the government agency says in a statement by press officer Øyvind Midttun.

He also mentions operational circumstances as a major underlying cause for the high numbers of unwanted incidents.

– We systematically monitor and supervise the industry, where we specifically highlight the importance of controlling the operational circumstances related to lifts. Operational circumstances are a major underlying cause for unwanted incidents, but the need for updated and professional user manuals and functioning equipment is also important factors we need to take into account.

– But in general, the industry has a safety problem surrounding lifting operations that needs to be addressed, Midttun states.