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The Scotsman: Union slates rig operators over lax safety

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UNION leaders have claimed offshore safety concerns were “falling on deaf ears”, after a report found concerns over an increasing number of accidents involving lifting equipment.

Oil-platform operators have been ordered to tighten up safety following the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found a “general failure” to carry out certain audits on North Sea installations.

The report said incidents involving cranes had “contributed significantly” to the accident toll. After an inspection of more than 70 platforms, the agency issued nine enforcement notices and made 173 written requests for action. The investigation also found the rise in the number of accidents mirrored a drop in experienced staff.

Dave Forsyth, the HSE’s programme manager, said: “I was surprised that our inspections found a general failure by offshore operators to carry out independent audits of their management of lifting operations. Independent audits are fundamental for effective safety management.

Graham Tran, the regional officer with the union Amicus, said the findings had come as no surprise. “Amicus has been saying time and time again that safety must be the number-one priority, but it appears to fall on deaf ears,” he said. “The industry is not learning lessons and is paying lip service to the safety and wellbeing of the workforce.”

He said figures quoted by the UK Offshore Operators Association did not represent the true picture. “UKOOA said in the last quarter of 2006 the number of incidents had dropped, but that is just being selective.”

A spokeswoman for UKOOA said: “We have been working with the HSE to improve safety performance relating to lifting operations.”


NORTH Sea accidents involving offshore oil and gas workers include:

January 2007: Oil worker Matthew Grey died while working on a cargo tank on the Talisman Bleo Holme platform.

February 2006: William Graham and Graeme Simpson were seriously injured when hit by drilling equipment they were operating on the Stena Spey platform.

September 2003: Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff were killed after being overcome by gas while inspecting a temporary repair patch on a leg of Shell’s Brent Bravo installation.

July 1988: The world’s worst offshore oil disaster, in which 167 men died on Piper Alpha. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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