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Aberdeen Press & Journal: OFFSHORE SAFETY: ‘MORE MUST BE DONE’

08:50 – 21 November 2007

The Health and Safety Executive will today tell the offshore industry that more must be done, despite significant improvements.

This follows a three-year investigation and the inspection of nearly 100 offshore installations.

The stark message to the industry will be made at the launch of the KP3 report – an investigation carried out by the HSE’s Aberdeen-based offshore division into the safety and integrity of platforms and the equipment on them. The report’s findings included a wide variation in performance across the sector and, worryingly, wide variations within some companies.

It also found that many senior managers were not making adequate use of integrity management data and were not giving sufficient priority to continuous maintenance.

Health and Safety Commission chairwoman Judith Hackitt will launch the report in Aberdeen along with Ian Whewell, head of HSE’s offshore division.

In September, North Sea oil and gas companies came under attack from Mr Whewell for their “unacceptable” safety record. He accused many companies of regarding safety representatives offshore as an unnecessary regulatory imposition.

Mr Whewell also criticised Step Change in Safety, the body charged with making the UK the world’s safest oil and gas exploration and production province by 2010.

Earlier this month, Mr Whewell said safety league tables should be published for the North Sea.

He said that this had been raised with trade body Oilamp; Gas UK, but that it could only work if operators agreed to step up to the plate and agreed to individual safety performance being put into the public domain.

Mr Whewell admitted HSE lacked the teeth needed to force the issue. It had to be voluntary. But tables could encourage greater consistency across the industry, with strong performers inspiring those lower down the table to make more effort.

While trade union OILC thought it was an excellent idea – one that would lead to an improvement in safety performance – Oilamp; Gas UK said such an approach amounted to “naming and shaming”.

Mr Whewell said one of his key messages was that the industry was very inconsistent.

“There are patches of very good performance, but there are very poor performances, too, even with the same company. Ironically, they can vary from year to year. No one can afford to rest on their laurels. Once you decide that you’ve got it (safety) solved, that’s the road to destruction, quite frankly,” he said.

“What we’re saying, and what the Oilamp; Gas UK board has accepted, is that they need to share learning across the industry much more effectively; they need to demonstrate leadership in bringing up the poorer performers.”

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