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Oil & Gas UK health and safety report for 2017 shows improving trend

29 October 2018

The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry continued to see improvement across a broad range of health and safety indicators last year, according to a key insight into the health and safety landscape published by Oil & Gas UK in October. There were no work-related fatalities recorded in 2017 and the non-fatal injury rate also continued to decrease across the UK Continental Shelf.

The report gives an overview of the offshore oil and gas industry’s performance in health and safety in 2017 and a summary of activities undertaken by industry groups to protect people working in the sector in 2018.
Key findings were as follows:

Personal safety

• There were no work-related fatalities in 2017.
• The three-year rolling average non-fatal injury rate continued to decrease. This measure is based on the number of over-seven-day and specified injuries.
• Fractures were the most common type of reportable injury, followed by strains and sprains.
• The most common cause of injury was slips, trips, and falls on the same level, 37% of the total.

Process safety

• The downward trend in reportable incidents continues, with 255 such occurrences in 2017 - 67% lower than in 2000-01. This is the lowest on record.
• Hydrocarbon releases were the single largest category of reportable incidents (39% of the total), followed by dropped objects (26%).
• The trend in RIDDOR reportable hydrocarbon releases since 1996 remains downward. There are fewer significant releases than in any previous year.
• Major releases have been reduced since 2012, but have plateaued at around 2 per year in the past few years.
• The installation average safety-critical maintenance backlog continues to decrease year-on-year.


• 110,688 Oil & Gas UK medicals were performed by OGUK-registered doctors in more than 60 countries, up from 99,104 in 2016.
• The most frequent cause of medevacs was for suspected cardiac incidents.
• Blood pressure and diabetes were the most common health conditions causing people to fail the offshore medical.


Offshore helicopter operations in 2017 were conducted without accident.
• There was a decrease in the five-year accident rate to 0.52 per 100,000 flying hours.
• Flying hours decreased in 2017 from 88,983 to 69,005 but more passengers were transported – 820,158 against 715,011 in 2016.
• The active helicopter fleet in 2017 numbered 70 aircraft, of six airframe types. Over half the fleet is of a single airframe type, the S-92, which carried two-thirds of passengers.

The report notes that major hydrocarbon releases, whilst reduced since 2012, are plateauing at around two per year in the last few years. Industry efforts to drive concerted action in this area are being steered by Oil & Gas UK in partnership with Step Change in Safety.

Commenting on the report findings, Oil & Gas UK Health and Safety Manager Trevor Stapleton said:

“As a major hazard industry, the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector has a clear duty to protect the health and safety of our people.

“Oil & Gas UK’s Health and Safety 2018 report provides an informed view of health and safety performance in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry in 2017. The data shows that while we continue to see improvements across a range of trends, there can be no room for complacency.

“That’s why Oil & Gas UK is co-ordinating industry action to reduce the number of major hydrocarbon releases. In a year where we marked 30 years since Piper Alpha, we’re all too aware of the personal and long-lasting consequences if things go wrong.

“We’ve committed to working with the regulator, industry and, in collaboration with Step Change in Safety, to help steer efforts in the areas of process safety leadership, audit, self-verification and sustainable learning.

“As our industry emerges from a sustained downturn, the health and safety of our people remains a core value and is at the heart of all that we do.“

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