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Offshore Health & Safety Called Into Question

Posted: 11/01/2017

A new survey by Unite the union has found that 58.5 per cent of offshore workers believe that health and safety standards have fallen in the past six months, with 38.5 per cent saying they’ve been in a position where they’ve not felt able to report an incident because of fear of victimisation.

What’s more, 82.8 per cent commented, they’d seen a reduction in the numbers of skilled personnel, which has had a knock-on effect on productivity and the ability carry out certain work tasks.

Regional officer with the union William Wallace said Unite is aware that operators in the North Sea do face challenges because of falling oil prices, but companies must be aware that they can’t reduce the numbers of skilled employees in a bid to prop their profits up.

“Companies should never – ever – make cuts that threaten health and safety and put the lives of our members at risk. The lessons of Piper Alpha should never be forgotten. We will be calling on the industry to work with health and safety bodies, with the trade unions, and with government so that we can get a confidential helpline created,” he went on to say.

Piper Alpha was a production platform in the North Sea that was operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia). It began production in 1976, initially as an oil-only rig but was later converted to include gas production. An explosion took place in July 1988 that destroyed the rig and killed 167 people.

It seems there may have been a bit of controversy surrounding the incident, with questions arising as to whether enough time was provided for a more effective emergency evacuation.

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