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OPITO pilots new offshore workforce safety standard in North Sea

01 May 2013

A new standard in offshore safety is to be trialled in the UK sector of the North Sea. which aims to advance the critical role of elected safety representatives (ESRs) in minimising the risk of accidents and improving safety.

ESRs are elected under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1989. Independent of management, their functions and powers include investigating potential hazards, dangerous occurrences, complaints and the causes of accidents as well as the inspection of installations.

While a basic introductory course already exists, this new advanced standard aims to support more effective workforce involvement by giving ESRs access to training that helps them develop their effectiveness and confidence.

Four, two-day pilot courses will be delivered in Aberdeen by risk management company DNV in February and March 2013. Volunteer delegates will get the chance to trial the latest development in safety training for the North Sea workforce. Upon successful approval of the standard, the courses will then be rolled out across the industry and will be available to over 2,000 ESRs. 

The drive for the new courses came from the Offshore Industry Advisory Committee’s (OIAC) Workforce Involvement Group, strongly supported by the Trade Unions, Oil and Gas UK and Step Change in Safety. The standard was developed by ESRs themselves, supported by industry skills body OPITO. 

Larraine Boorman, managing director of OPITO, said: “Safety representatives hold a vital role and can have a dramatic and positive impact on safety across the workplace. While training is required by law, evidence suggests that standards vary across the industry and in some cases, there is a lack of involvement by ESRs in key areas. This new standard will help those in this critical role develop the confidence, understanding and skills to improve the safety culture for all.”

Nicky Elphinstone, ESR on Total E&P’s Elgin platform and ESR representative on the OIAC Workforce Involvement Group has been involved in the process from the start. He said: “This new training is just what representatives need. It will give us the confidence and skills to understand major accident hazards and risk analysis, challenge the root cause and to communicate safety concerns.”

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