OSLO, Norway – The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has issued orders to Equinor concerning two instances on field facilities in the North Sea where staff may have been exposed to carcinogenic asbestos fibers.
The first occurred last May during work on the Veslefrikk field to replace brake bands containing asbestos on anchor winches. The decision to depart from the original plan and cut the bands probably led to the exposure, with no personal protective equipment in use when the incident occurred.
Although it was not reported to the PSA at the time, it was picked up during an audit of Equinor last October/November.
A second case occurred in January 2021 at the Gullfaks field in connection with the removal of exhaust channels for an emergency generator on the Gullfaks A platform.
Work was halted after suspicions concerning the presence of asbestos, which was then identified in the channel insulation. But until the work stopped, personnel involved were probably exposed to asbestos and were not using respirators.
The PSA’s review concluded that in both cases Equinor has failed to ensure that the work was planned and structured to prevent employees from being exposed to health hazards, with no overall assessment made at the time of the acute and long-term effects from asbestos in the working environment.
Equinor must respond with an action plan by June 15, 2021.