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*Oil company profits vs. offshore worker safety: how many more lives are going to be lost?

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS IN THE ARTICLE BELOW ARE BY MR DAVID C RICHMOND IN RESPONSE TO A RECENT NEWS REPORT ENTITLED: Press & Journal (Aberdeen): CAIRNS DEFENDS HSE, AMID CRITICISM FROM OFFSHORE UNIONS: RELEVANT EXTRACTS FROM NEWS REPORT: Scotland Office Minister David Cairns defended the performance of the Health and Safety Executive in UK waters. Mr Cairns, who was attending an ONS press conference yesterday, was asked if the HSE was up to carrying out its role, in light of recent criticism. He replied: “I have no reason at all to doubt the competency of the HSE.”) 

ARTICLE BY: David C Richmond

Mr Cairns states at a press conference in Stavanger he has no reason at all to doubt the “Competency of the HSE”.  Well he would wouldn’t he!

From this statement it must be concluded that Mr Cairns has been so busy doing his job as a Scottish Minister he has had no time to read or listen to any of the outcry in the media regarding Offshore Safety or lack of it. Especially regarding the recent happening on his own doorstep, which surely must extend to the North Sea Oil and Gas Operations and Shells Brent fatal accidents in particular?

He should be guided to and update his knowledge base of the shortfall perceived by Unions and Offshore Staff throughout the North Sea of the HSE. Shell in particular failed to comply with the HSE approved Operational Safety Case, did not maintain critical ESD valves, changed leak off test rates without the correct level of approvals, resorted to using strips neoprene and garden hose clips to repair corrosion of hydrocarbon pipe work, Fire pumps below capacity left unrepaired, vast areas of the platforms Fire and Gas detection systems either isolated or not working correctly, happily continued Producing Millions of cubic feet of gas and oil. Where were the HSE when all this was happening I wonder?

This state of affairs continued un-abated until one of these “Mickey Mouse” repairs failed, an un-repaired ESD did not function and two ordinary Offshore Workers tragically died.

The HSE are tasked to be the Regulators of Offshore Operations and compliance with approved Safety Cases.

Currently the HSE is sitting on its hands in Lord Cullen House not implementing its own guidance documents for the Enforcement of Offshore Operators Safety Cases and their compliance with.

See link to HSE’s procedural guidance documents

Perhaps the HSE should be proactive instead of reactive, that of course is a harder task and requires a higher level of competence -despite Mr Cairns misplaced confidence in the HSE.  This includes visits to Offshore to ensure that the Office based records are fact and not fiction. Talking to people at the “coalface” is a rich source of the real situation.

How many lives are going to be lost before proper action is taken on the side of worker safety, as opposed to oil company profits and related revenues generated for the government?

David C Richmond

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