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UK offshore safety shows signs of improvement

22 August 2016

The 2016 Oil & Gas UK Health & Safety report says personal safety performance throughout the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector continued to improve in 2015. There were no reported fatalities on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in 2015, and reportable injury rates for the offshore oil and gas industry, which are calculated via a metric set by Oil & Gas UK, were lower than a number of other sectors, including manufacturing.

Mick Borwell, health, safety and environment policy director at Oil & Gas UK, said: “I am pleased to say there were no reported fatalities on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in 2015. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics in our report show that the industry non-fatal injury rate and the over-seven-day and specified injuries rates also decreased.”
The report said lost time injury frequency was lower on the UK Continental Shelf than in Norway and Denmark, and only slightly worse than the best performer in the region, The Netherlands.
The over-seven-day injury rate in 2015 was 249 per 100,000 workers, the lowest since first calculated 20 years ago and under half of the total for 2005.
Combined ‘dangerous occurrences’ statistics, which capture oil and gas releases, fires or explosions, dropped objects and weather damage, fell roughly 30% between 2013 and 2015, the report said.
Well incidents fell from 51 to 26 between 2013 and 2015 and pipeline incidents from 51 to 38.
However, within that category, minor oil and gas releases rose by 9%, which the report suggests could be the result of more operators using technology that helps detect the smallest of escapes. Also, new reporting criteria also came into place in the latter half of 2015 and now includes releases that were not deemed reportable under previous legislation.
Three of the releases were in the ‘major’ category, the same as in 2014 and well down on previous years.
After a steadily worsening trend in 2013 and 2014, the KPI-3 safety-critical maintenance backlog situation improved significantly in 2015 showing that cross-industry focus on this area is bearing fruit.
In 2015, just under 115,500 UKCS helicopter flights were flown totalling 69,052 flight hours and transporting just over 825,200 passengers offshore. This is a significant reduction on 2014 when 141,000 flights were flown with 1.53 million passengers transported. There were no fatalities or non-fatal accidents from helicopter operations in either year. 
The five-year average for fatal accidents sits consistently on or below 0.6 per 100,000 flying hours.
Borwell said hydrocarbon releases are a perpetual focus for the oil and gas industry.
“We need to understand more about the slight rise in mainly minor releases to help redouble our efforts on driving these right down. This is a testing time for the industry and our commitment to safety has, at times, been questioned.
“However, our report demonstrates that safe operations continue to be intrinsic to how we go about our activities on the UK Continental Shelf, regardless of the oil price,” he said.

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