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Oil & Gas UK welcomes HSE offshore safety statistics

10 August 2011

Commenting on the HSE’s offshore safety statistics for 2010/2011, Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director Robert Paterson said: “The oil and gas industry welcomes the publication of the HSE’s offshore safety statistics, which reflect the significant effort made in the last 12 months to get back on track after last year’s disappointing performance."

Paterson went on to say: “The reduction in the number of hydrocarbon releases is a move in the right direction as this remains a top priority and a key focus of the industry’s absolute commitment to continuously improving process safety standards. Maintenance of safety-critical systems remains of paramount importance for all our member companies.

“Last year, the UK offshore industry’s safety initiative, Step Change in Safety, agreed with all its member companies to redouble efforts to reduce the number of reportable leaks by 50% over three years. These statistics show that progress towards the target has begun.
“The reduction in the number of major injuries and the fact that we’ve seen a four-year period without a fatality on an offshore installation are also very encouraging. Indeed, in terms of lost time injury rates, the offshore industry continues to outperform general manufacturing and even the public sectors.

“While we acknowledge we’ve made progress compared with last year, there are still areas for us to improve upon. Our efforts to achieve even safer work sites through learning and sharing information on incidents and their underlying causes, and through greater workforce engagement continue as essential elements in the UK oil and gas industry journey towards making the UK the safest offshore sector in the world in which to work.”

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Offshore Group chair Tim Ingram added: “On the basis of these figures, we simply can’t afford to be complacent. While any reduction in hydrocarbon releases is good to see, fundamentally it’s always concerning to see any that are deemed major or significant, as it is these that have the potential to cause injuries or fatalities.

“In light of the offshore industry’s Step Change targets for the next three years, if this reduction rate of hydrocarbon release incidents is maintained, we would still miss that 2014 target by some distance. Working on the basis that accidents are preventable, the 42 major injuries are also concerning.

“We have seen an improvement in offshore health and safety in UK waters in the last decade. But we need to be learning from all incidents and sharing lessons to make sure we don’t have a repeat of the Piper Alpha tragedy, and don't suffer our own Deepwater Horizon incident in the future. IOSH’s Offshore Group has its part to play in supporting health and safety professionals in this sector to achieve that aim.”

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