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Aiming for zero accidents

Crane Operations have been the cause of most fatal accidents offshore during the last ten years. Now safety has been enhanced. Starting 1 January 2012 a requirement for a Trade certificate at the Sture terminal and all  land terminals in Norway was introduced.

The safety of crane operations has received considerable attention in recent years, not least because of the situation where most fatal accidents offshore, have occurred in connection with the use of cranes and lifting equipment. Although crane operations account for only 14 per cent of serious accidents, the number of fatalities in relation to the number of events, shows that lifting operations have a major impact, the Petroleumstilsynet states in a report.

Efforts to create new legislation that will provide safer crane operations have been based on the industry and resulted in a new NORSOK standard for the safe use of lifting equipment. From 1 January, all operators of the main crane types such as mobile crane and tower crane on land must have a certificate.

- Working purposefully

Also in Vest Kran, employees and management have had a strong focus on safety in recent years.

- We have known that the requirement of a certificate would be introduced and it has been fully in line with our wishes. We have put much effort into and been determined to make our operations more secure. Everyone working with cranes depends on a deep expertise, says operations manager, Morten Essen in Vest Kran.

Crane opertaor, Martin Engelsen confirms that there is a strong focus on security in their daily work.

- In recent years, we at Vest Kran have been greatly involved in this work. We work hard on safety every day. It's not so easy that you can take a safety course and believe that is enough. No, we must work continuously. Both for us and the customer, it is very important that the work being carried out, is made without mistake.

Aside from the human aspect of the accident, delays in the projects result in higher costs for the customer.

- Whatever the circumstance, it's the crane companies who are responsible for ensuring that the personnel used on land installations, have the required skills, he explains.

Statoil positive

Also, Statoil, which has helped to create the new NORSOK standard R-005, is positive to the introduction of requirements for a certificate of land installations. According to information manager, Jon Halstein Tjore, Statoil is convinced that this will increase the quality and professionalism in the crane field.

Although there has not been introduced an offshore certificate requirement yet, Statoil has a strong focus on raising skills in the field, also on the offshore installations. Nearly one million lift are carried out annually with offshore cranes on Statoil's platforms.

- The statistics are clear

- The statistics clearly show that the raising of expertise that has happened in recent years and the effort with the introduction of a certificate, have made crane operations much safer, says Head of the logistics on the Gullfaks A, Terje Urhaug. One of his main tasks are operational responsibilty to ensure that all users of lifting equipment do so in accordance with statutory requirements and our governing documents, APOS.

Want offshore included

Urhaug hopes that the Trade certificate requirement will also urgently be introduced offshore.

- Yes, we have great hopes of getting an audit in 2012 of the current NORSOK standard regarding offshore. R-003 is seven years old now and ripe for revision. At present, the requirement is that operators of offshore cranes have a crane operator license. An introduction of the Trade certificate will further enhance their skills.

He envisions that implimentation could happen as early as next year and that it be given a period of 3-4 years to upgrade the skills of the offshore crane operators, the same deadline as land plants received.

- For this is important. We are the umbilical cord of offshore operations. Only in the Gullfaks field there are conducted 100,000 lifts a year with offshore cranes. In addition, there are an enormous number of lifts with overhead cranes and winches and other types lifting equipment.

- Education is important


Caption: Mentor, Martin Engelsen (seated) and his recently graduated apprentice, Peter Rønning handle lifts up to 80 tons with its Demag mobile crane: - It is very capable at a facility like Sture. It is small, agile and has a short rigging, says Engelsen.

Engelsen in Vest Kran also points out the importance of competence.

- The better the education, the safer the lifting operations. At crane school you learn to implement what we call safe job analysis, in accordance with the NORSOK standard. Dividing the operations into smaller parts and planing step by step. Conditions of space, control of equipment, the weight lifting, the need for crane size and wind conditions, should be taken into consideration. This increases the chances of a successful lifting operation.

There are also other advantages with a certificate.

- Yes, it is also important that we as crane operators receive the expertise and status in line with other professionals such as electricians and mechanics. The Trade certificate can also provide larger work areas. Now we can rig, approve the temporary suspension lift, we can drive a truck and operate several types of cranes. A certificate also gives us a greater internal status in the workplace, says Engelsen.

He adds that crane operators with a Trade certificate undoubtedly will be more attractive on the labor market.

Fifth apprentice group

- We now have the fifth group of apprentices at Vest Kran. It has been important for us to ensure good organization and provide high quality education, says operations manager, Morten Martin Essen in Vest Kran.

The training period lasts for two years and consists of practice in business and theoretical knowledge at crane school in Rogaland. Vest Kran pays the apprentices. Apprentices get paid for the Theory course and receive full pay for an apprentice period. In addition, apprentices receive pay compensation after they have graduated.

- Attractive labor

- Is it challenging to keep people in this tight economic market?

- It is clear that in today's market, crane operators with a Trade certificate are attractive and we are humble in regards to our competitors. They are breathing down our neckas all the time. Therefore we must always be focused, answer crane operator Martin Engelsen who is a mentor to two apprentices.

- But we see that the apprentices will be with us even after the trade certificate has been taken. They think we are a good company to be in, he says and can only remember  one that's gone so far. He wanted to take further education.

- Everyone must take responsibility

Operation Commander in Vest Kran is very concerned that the industry takes responsibility for the training.

- Staffing problem in the crane industry can not be solved by individual companies alone. The entire industry must work together to increase the competence and capacity.

None of the crane companies can be free riders.

Vest Kran and its competitors in the industry can certainly appreciate the number of accidents is going down. After a sharp increase towards the 2000s, the number of serious accidents has declined.

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