There are notable examples of good practice in control of noise and vibration in the offshore oil and gas industry. However, it is often the case that the EC directives' requirements for eliminating or controlling exposures to noise and hand-arm vibration (HAV) are not fully implemented in the industry. There are many technical challenges presented by life extension projects. Much of this work may involve significant exposure, but it may also present opportunities to eliminate and control exposures better. Similarly, the construction of new installations provides scope for incorporating good design from the outset.

HSE has encountered recent examples of refit and new build where both engineering design and operational input have been sought. However, the emphasis often remains very much on assessment rather than taking appropriate control actions. Noise and vibration control is not a new science. Noise from process and plant can often be an indicator of (or even mask) plant condition and condition monitoring is now an increasingly sophisticated science. We therefore need to change the perception of this being a ‘health problem’ to being an engineering challenge, for which good engineering design and good practice provide the best solutions. In many cases, this can involve incorporation of simple, well-established principles.

Whilst the major focus of the oil and gas industry is rightly on key issues such as integrity and safe operation, there is still a need to address issues that have serious health implications. Within its broader inspection programme, HSE is examining the way the industry is controlling noise and vibration. It is also looking at good examples of project management where control of noise and vibration has been incorporated. Such examples of good practice provide encouragement and education to others in the industry. This paper describes the approach being taken by HSE in the UK.

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