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North-sea helicopter operations carried out without accident last year

Wednesday October 30th 2019 at 9:36 AM


North-sea offshore helicopter operations were carried out without an accident last year, according to new statistics.

OGUK’s Health and Safety Manager, Trevor Stapleton, has urged North-sea operators to be proactive in mitigating risk.

Oil and Gas UK’s Health and Safety Report 2019 showed the fatal accident rate per 100,000 hours dropped to zero for the first time since 2001, despite flying hours increasing by 12% to 77,286 last year.

In terms of general safety, the paper highlights that, while the over-seven-day injury rate increased in 2018, analysis of some of the longer-term trends shows that after a period of slight increase in the years to 2014-15, a downward trend is apparent in the years since.

However, North-sea operators are being urged to be proactive after there were four major hydrocarbon releases, despite reductions since 2012. 

Measures are now being taken by OGUK, alongside Step Change in Safety, to ensure industry is taking action in this area.

The industry body has identified four key issues it will address in 2020, including hydrocarbon release prevention, major hazard management, improvements in aviation safety and the health of the workforce.

Commenting on the report findings, OGUK’s Health and Safety Manager Trevor Stapleton said: “OGUK is co-ordinating industry action to prevent hydrocarbon releases and we cannot take our eye off the ball. When it comes to getting people home safely, nothing is more important, and we must strive to always do better.

“We will host our first ever HSE Conference next week bringing together trade bodies, industry experts and regulators, to discuss improvements and challenges in all areas as part of a drive to take health and safety performance forward into the next decade.

“Our report shows that the downward trend in HCRs shown in the three-year moving average has plateaued in 2018. If the rate of hydrocarbon releases continues on the current trajectory over the next two years, there will be an increase for the first time in over a decade.

“However, in the period reported it is worth noting that year-on-year increases such as those seen in 2009-10 and 2013 have been followed by improving performance. Nevertheless, we cannot be complacent.

“We are committed to working with the regulator, industry and in collaboration with other stakeholders, to help steer efforts in this and the other focus areas of major hazard management, particularly guidance for a safety case fit for the future, improvements in aviation safety, and the health of the offshore workforce.

“This is an opportunity to harness all the great work being done in the HSE arena, to ensure our industry remains aligned and continues on its path of developing sustainable improvements.”

But a leading offshore union has raised concern about the report because it shows increases in injuries and reportable safety incidents, including hydrocarbon releases, as well as a rising backlog of safety critical maintenance work on installations.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is an extremely worrying set of findings. The Health and Safety Executive’s warning to employers that they need to make progress in preventing hydrocarbon releases has clearly not been heeded and it is totally unacceptable to see the backlog of safety critical maintenance work creeping up again.

“Tax cuts and RMT members’ hard work are fuelling massive pay increases for oil executives, yet employers cannot even keep workers updated on efforts to improve the safety of helicopter transport.

“Whilst this report doesn’t cover the recent spate of safety incidents such as the evacuation of all workers on EnQuest’s Thistle platform earlier this month, it underlines the need for rapid improvement. The role of safety reps and wider workforce engagement policies on oil and gas installations in the North Sea must be part of that improvement.

“RMT will continue the fight to deliver the offshore safety culture of continuous improvement that every offshore worker and their family deserves. “
 

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