Cultural Oversight: HSE Culture in the Norwegian Petroleum Industry
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The price society has to pay for modernization comes in the form of increased risks (Beck, 1992). As a result, risk management and regulations were developed to systematically deal with the consequences of modern-day technology (Lindøe et al., 2011). The legitimacy of the regulations is grounded on commonly held values (Baldwin and Cave, 2012, Lindøe and Engen, 2013). Society demands an improved understanding of risks and enhanced governance in safeguarding health, safety, the environment, and society in general (IRGC, 2014).Among the most recent developments in safety regulation in the Norwegian petroleum industry is the introduction of the concept health, safety and environment (HSE) culture in the Framework Regulations (PSA, 2002). This regulation requires a sound health, safety and environment culture in all the activities of an organization. The title of this research is intentionally equivocal. It reflects the vital issue in this paper: Is the oversight of culture relevant to the regulation of safety in the petroleum industry or are we better off overlooking culture? The focus of this study is HSE culture in the Norwegian petroleum industry as introduced by PSA´s intentions through section 15 of the HSE Framework Regulations, and the industry´s interpretation in the form of safety programs.This study traced the development of the concept HSE culture within the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA). The primary intention of its introduction was to express a goal for the Norwegian petroleum industry to continuously improve on health, safety and environment through adopting a holistic approach. As we followed the journey of the regulatory requirement as it traversed from the regulator to the regulated, the interpretation took shape in the form of safety programs. This case has identified the different forms of regulation that a safety regulator may apply in safeguarding the petroleum industry. The PSA influenced the development of HSE culture through the introduction of a policy statement and goal-oriented rules in the regulations, deliberate state influence using various strategies such as information dissemination and appreciative inquiry, and other forms of influence such as enforced self-regulation and providing an arena for discourse among the different industry actors. On the other hand, introduction of an abstract concept such as HSE culture may result in interpretation that is remote from the regulator´s intentions. This study established that the relationship between the regulator and the regulated must be understood within its context. Several external factors were identified as possible influences in the decision making process of both the regulator and the regulated. Thus, the regulation of safety should be viewed from an institutional perspective, where interplay between organizations contributes to influencing both the intentions of the regulator, as well as the implementation of the regulated. However, by employing strategic regulatory oversight and establishing quality lines of communication, the PSA has the ability to enhance its performance as a regulator and direct the industry towards an improved HSE culture.