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HSE Figures Put Focus On Offshore Safety Priorities

Tuesday 22 December 1998

HSE Figures Put Focus On Offshore Safety Priorities

Four trade associations representing different sectors of the UK offshore oil and gas industry UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA), Offshore Contractors Association (OCA), International Association of Drilling Contractors - North Sea Chapter (IADC) and British Rig Owners Association (BROA) have issued the following joint statement in response to the Offshore Accident and Incident Statistics Report 1998 published today (22 December 1998) by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE Offshore Accident and Incident Statistics published today confirm the concerns expressed in 1997 by senior oil industry managers which were the reason for embarking on the Step Change in Safety initiative to improve industry safety performance. HSEs provisional figures show a rise in the number of offshore accidents in the 12-month period from April 1997 to March 1998 compared with the previous year. The statistics also provide valuable information as to where the Industry, through Step Change (launched in September 1997), should focus future effort in its continuing quest to improve safety performance.

The HSEs Offshore Accident and Incident Statistics Report 1998 reveals that compared with 1996/97:

- There were three fatalities arising from two incidents (compared to two fatalities in the previous year)

- The number of major injuries rose from 45 in 1996/97 to 59, with an increase in the major injury rate from 167.6 to 256.5 per 100,000 employees.

- The number of over three-day injuries decreased from 304 to 292, while the rate for the same type of injuries showed an increase from 1132.1 to 1269.6 per 100,000 employees.

- Certain offshore operations are associated with a higher incidence of injuries, in particular drilling/workover, deck and maintenance operations.

- Finger and back injuries dominate, with the most common types of accident involving slips, trips and falls, and handling goods and materials.

The Industry has always been alert to the need to improve safety performance offshore, commented Bob Connon, UKOOAs new President for 1999. In September 1997, recognising that industry performance had been static for several years and fearing that this could easily lead to a worsening of safety performance, it redoubled its efforts by launching the Step Change initiative to drive home the message that safety must come first in everything we do. These latest figures reinforce the importance of that initiative.

Step Change was established as a Cross Industry initiative embracing all sectors of the Industry including contractors, service companies, operators and owners of installations and the workforce, with input from trades unions, regulators and academics.

Measures already introduced through the Step Change Initiative include:

* Personal Safety Performance Contracts signed by senior management.

* The creation of an Offshore Installation Managers network which provides a formal framework for installation management to share ideas and good practice in the area of safety management.

* Steps to introduce a more uniform approach to aspects of safety management, such as identifying common safety performance measurements and establishing an industry-wide approach to induction training for new personnel joining offshore installations.

* The drilling contractors, in conjunction with the operators, have set up workgroups to deal with safety critical issues identified in the drilling operation.

* A project to improve the communication of the safety message with the dissemination of the Communicating the Safety Case document throughout the Industry.

* The development of an Offshore Passport System, providing a comprehensive record of an employees training, experience and time offshore.

* A series of workshops to build direct workforce involvement into the Step Change programme.

HSE Figures Put Focus on Safety Priorities/3

While representing a major step forward in uniting the Industry across all fronts to tackle safety issues head-on, these most recent statistics show that there is still much to be done, commented George Watkins, Chairman of the Cross Industry Safety Leadership Forum.

The figures also indicate the areas where the Industry must focus its effort if the Step Change initiative is to achieve its goal of a 50% improvement in safety performance, he added. While there has been much progress on a variety of industry-wide initiatives under the Step Change banner, there are areas where additional improvements can be made.

Mr Watkins continued: The fact that offshore accidents are largely dominated by slips, trips and falls supports the need to address the behavioural dimension in safety performance. Workforce involvement is key. Workshops held last month in Aberdeen for offshore workers as part of the Step Change initiative provided invaluable feedback, which will help sharpen the Industrys safety campaign. Some of the priority areas identified by the workforce included safety training for supervisors, offshore passports, developing individual safety behaviour models and responsibility, improving communications, support for safety representatives, lifting/rigging operational procedures and developing compendia of best practice in areas such as task-based risk assessments.

Note to Editors

* The Step Change in Safety initiative was launched in September 1997.


* Its objectives are to:


* Deliver a 50% improvement in safety performance over a three-year framework.

* Establish individual safety performance contacts.

* Work together to improve the sharing of safety information and good practice across the whole Industry, through active involvement of employees, service companies, operators, Trades Unions, regulators and representatives bodies.

For more information, please call 020 7802 2400.