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Oil & Gas UK reports "mixed" offshore health and safety performance during last year

20 June 2014

Oil & Gas UK’s annual Health & Safety report, published on June 19, sets out a summary of industry health and safety performance across a range of indicators, and describes many of the issues and activities influencing that performance. The 2014 report presents a mixed picture; whilst progress has been made across certain areas, some safety indicators have deteriorated compared with the previous year. 

Aviation safety dominated the industry’s 2013 agenda
Aviation safety dominated the industry’s 2013 agenda

The report confirmed that there has been a 49% reduction in the number of reportable hydrocarbon releases over three years to the end of March 2013 – narrowly missing the 50% industry target. Despite the decrease in the number of major and significant releases continuing a welcome five-year downward trend, the remainder of 2013 saw an overall increase in total number of releases. There was also a slight increase in the frequency of reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences, reversing the trend of improvement in previous years.

Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director, commented:

“Despite the ongoing and encouraging decrease in major and significant releases over the last year – the industry is not yet where it needs to be.  Industry, working closely with the Regulators and the workforce through Step Change and other bodies, is refocusing attention on preventative strategies and programmes to maintain and enhance momentum in this crucial area.”

Once again aviation safety has dominated the industry’s 2013 agenda. In August 2013 a helicopter crashed on approach to Sumburgh Airport resulted in the tragic loss of four colleagues. An Air Accident Investigation Branch inquiry into this event is still ongoing. Robert Paterson comments:

“This incident prompted a number of investigations and reviews of UK offshore aviation safety by various bodies, including the Helicopter Safety Steering Group, the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee and the Civil Aviation Authority. Many of the actions and recommendations arising from those reviews have far-reaching implications for our industry and our workforce. We remain determined to ensure these matters are addressed in a timely and effective manner.”

The report also notes that 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster in which 167 people died. The industry marked this significant anniversary with a major conference which saw 700 delegates from across the global industry spend three days reflecting and reviewing how major hazard safety management has improved over time, but more importantly reinforced the collective commitment to continuous improvement in safety. Robert Paterson concludes:

“Twenty five years on, Piper Alpha still serves as a shocking and enduring reminder of the inherently hazardous nature of our industry. The lessons from Piper Alpha are about the need for effective management of major hazard safety, communication, human and organisational factors and of the need for continued vigilance. We must learn from the past and apply those lessons broadly. We have come a long way in the last 25 years.”

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