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UpstreamOnline: UK sector safety call

Watchdog tells industry greater effort is needed to meet targets
CHRISTOPHER HOPSON London
8 September 2006
 
THE UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has called on the oil and gas industry to do more to meet offshore safety targets after releasing a poor set of accident statistics showing a rise in the total number of fatal and major injuries in 2005-2006 compared with the previous year.

The HSE’s latest offshore safety statistics bulletin for 2005-2006 reported that two workers were killed and 50 suffered major injuries, compared with no fatalities and 48 major injuries in 2004-2005.

However, the combined fatal and major injury rate decreased by 11% to 225.4 per 100,000 workers compared with 253.4 in 2004-2005.

This improvement is explained by a 21.8% rise in the number of people working offshore from an estimated 18,940 in 2004-2005 to 23,072 in 2005-2006, according to the industry’s Vantage system data.

Based on provisional figures for 2005-2006, the main cause of major and fatal injuries was being trapped, struck by of striking against equipment, accounting for 19 of the 52 recorded accidents. Also the number of reported over-three-day injuries has increased this year by 20.2% from 104 to 125.

However, based on the increased workforce count, the over-three-day injury rate shows a 1.3% decrease on that recorded for 2004-2005.

Furthermore, the total number of cases of offshore ill health reported was 18, an increase of seven on the previous year. The most common diseases reported were chickenpox with six incidents and mumps, also with six incidents.

Ian Whewell, head of the HSE’s Offshore Division, said: “The figures show continued improvements in the incident rates for the more serious incidents and I welcome this. However, while rates are important, the cold fact is that two men died last year and a further 50 people were seriously injured. “The industry must now push on with its programmes of improvement if it is to deliver its agreed objectives of being the safest sector in the world by 2010 and to bring about more pronounced incident rate reductions,” he added. Whewell said the offshore industry faces considerable challenges as the North Sea infrastructure ages. 

Many offshore installations have exceeded their expected working lives, and requirements for maintenance, repair and replacement are now increasing rapidly.

He said the HSE believes that the goals of significantly improving installation integrity and securing a long safe future for the UK continental shelf are inseparable and that investment in infra¬structure is crucial to securing a safe and sustainable offshore environment. “Senior management commitment across the industry is high and the partnership infrastructure is in place and working to bring improvements, but there is still more to be done,” said Whewell.

Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC), said nobody more than the OILC wanted to attain the industry and HSE vision of the UK sector being the safest in the world by 2010. “After all, it’s our members and members of other unions that make up the statistics released by the HSE,” he said.

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