Safe lifting operations: Installations are poorly adapted for material handling

The installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are currently characterised by life extension and modernisation of production facilities, to keep the production of oil and gas running. This involves replacement of large amounts of heavy equipment.

The areas where this equipment is installed is often poorly adapted for material handling.  As a result, the use of temporary assembled lifting appliances is required to lift in and out equipment, says service manager for safe lifting operations in Axess, Magnus Gabrielsen.

To achieve a safe lifting operation using temporary assembled lifting appliances requires careful planning. Axess is studying several possible installation methods in the planning phase. The different methods are evaluated though comprehensive risk assessment. This ensures that the chosen method gives us what we search for; a safe lifting operation. To comply with the PSA regulatory requirements, it is essential to use the NORSOK R-002 and R-003 regulations combined with a thorough risk assessment, says Gabrielsen.

Safe lifting operations have received increased attention over the last few years due to a number of serious incidents. An incident involving falling causes significant consequences.  Axess therefore carries out thorough planning and method studies to eliminate this risk. We also hold short seminars on Norsok R-002 and R-003 for our clients, to increase the knowledge of the regulatory framework. This keeps both the clients and us on our toes.

Safe lifting in challenging environments

According to Norsok R-003 all lifting operations shall be planned in advance. In the planning phase the focus is on finding the best method to implement a safe and efficient lifting operation. When a method has been selected, the planning work continues by implementing relevant regulatory requirements, facility specific requirements and procedures, as well as our own procedures for safe lifting operations, says Gabrielsen.

When the lifting operation starts Axess focuses on staff continuity in order to transfer the quality of the planning to the implementation phase. A lifting operation includes all administrative and operational activities before, during and after a load has been shifted. Staff continuity is an important factor in succeeding with a safe lifting operation.

Through our framework agreement with Statoil, as specialists in complex and not complex lifting equipment, we have on several occasions experienced that the planning of a lifting operation has not been adequate in connection with installation of equipment. The focus of the manufacturer is often on optimum functioning of the equipment on installation and the client does not always have enough knowledge of the regulatory framework for lifting operations, Gabrielsen explains.

This has resulted in manufacturers supplying equipment that is not prepared for lifting, thus making installations considerably more expensive and time-consuming for the client. Axess aims to be involved at an early stage in these kinds of projects to be able to contribute to an optimum installation regarding safety and efficiency.

To us it is important that the people we choose to execute the different stages of the job are experienced in offshore work, that they know what the job involves and have a firsthand knowledge and understanding of the regulatory framework currently in force. This is one of the fields in which we excel, says Gabrielsen.

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Flexibility and efficiency

The offshore industry has safety at the top of their list of priorities. And right behind, we find another priority: efficiency. Two lifting operations executed by use of temporary assembled lifting appliances are never alike. The projects vary and there are a number of rig specific requirements and the common thread for them all is the requirement that a lifting operation must be carried out in a safe and efficient manner.

There are rig specific requirements for every single project and we constantly look for methods adapted to the specific project in question. It is about having an understanding of the regulatory framework that enables us to optimise the lifting with regard to safety and efficiency. If, for instance, we exaggerate the lifting capacity, the efficiency will be affected. We must calculate for both efficiency and safety and find the right method, Gabrielsen explains.

Specialist operations

Axess is a specialist business with its own specialist department. The regulatory framework often lays down requirements regarding the hiring of a specialist business in connection with lifting equipment and lifting operations, for instance when a temporary suspension point for loads weighing more than two metric tons is used. In each project, relevant regulatory and documentation requirements are defined by a team of engineers who plan the lifting operation together with the people from the specialist department.

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