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PSA: Focus on prevention rather than reducing consequences

He said it was important that any system put in place in fact works in the event of a real incident and that necessary counter-pollution measures are expedited rapidly.

He said too that he’s seeing a more coordinated approach on the part of various authorities (in Norway) to assess and monitor risks together. This particularly applied to the Barents Sea, where, encouragingly, there was even discussion with the Russians across a broad front.

Mr Gundersen said the time had come for the environment to be accorded the same attention and status as health and safety. But he warned of:

  • • Poor risk handling in planning of operation in environmental critical areas.
    • A lack of focus on major accident risk.
    • Insufficient evaluation of area-, rig- and operation-specific parameters.
    • A need for improvement in risk understanding among involved personnel.
    • A lack of focus on risk prevention/risk-reducing measures, both technical and operational – major focus on spill handling.

He said there should be greater focus on preventive measures instead of consequence-reducing measures and was particularly critical on the failure of companies to take on associated technology challenges.

Mr Gundersen warned against complacency, saying that they must not rely on a good track record to carry them forward. The future would present different challenges and require fresh solutions, and he reminded his audience that accidents are more likely to be caused by management and operational failure than equipment going wrong.

“Improved risk management, management commitment, change in attitude together with technological development is needed to assure prudent activities in environmental sensitive area,” he concluded.

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