UK Offshore Safety Incidents at Record Low

No workers died while working offshore during 2008/09, the second consecutive year with no fatalities, and 30 major injuries during the year was a drop of 14 from 2007/08.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive released new safety statistics for the offshore energy sector showing continuing progress, with both the combined fatal and major injury rate and major hydrocarbon releases being the lowest since the HSE began regulating the industry. No workers were killed while working offshore during 2008/09, the second consecutive year with no fatalities of that type, and the 30 major injuries during the year were 14 fewer than in 2007/08.

The combined fatal and major injury rate was 106 per 100,000 workers in 2008/09, well below the rates of 156 in 2007/08 and 146 in 2006/07. And major and significant hydrocarbon releases fell to 61 in 2008/09 from 74 in 2007/08. Still, the 2008/09 minor three-day injury rate was 496 workers per 100,000, a slight drop from the previous year.

"Although we were pleased to see no fatalities occurring in offshore operations for a second consecutive year, this good news was of course overshadowed by the tragic events of 1 April when the Super Puma helicopter crashed with the loss of 16 passengers," said Judith Hackitt, who chairs the HSE board. "The same day, in a separate incident, a worker received fatal injuries aboard a dive support vessel in transit. Even though HSE's remit does not extend to air and marine transport activities, these incidents show that hazards are ever present offshore. The loss of 17 offshore workers this year is a tragedy and stark reminder to us all.

"The KP3 review, published just last month, shows that progress is being made in improving safety in the industry, and HSE inspectors will continue to adopt a tough approach to poor performers to help preserve and improve the industry’s safety performance as a whole," she added. "The improvements in major and fatal accident rates are encouraging, but industry must not take its eye of the ball. Investment in safety must continue despite the current economic climate putting a squeeze on resources."

"Carrying forward last year’s success will require continued industry focus on integrity management, safe systems of work, supervision, risk assessment and competence. Worryingly, early indicators for 2009/10 suggest last year's improved performance is currently not being delivered," said Ian Whewell, who heads HSE's Offshore Division. "Renewed effort is also essential to reduce the number of minor injuries, which have only been showing a slow rate of decline. A focus on training, together with identification and management of hazards and risks, are key factors for preventing incidents. I believe the workforce has a key role to play and I encourage the industry to continue working on improved workforce involvement and to give their full support to safety representatives."

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