In response to the Health & Safety Executive's press briefing at Offshore Europe in Aberdeen today (September 10, 2009), Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas UK's health and safety director, said:
"Over the last 21 years the industry has made huge progress in putting in place multiple barriers on its offshore installations to prevent escalation of dangerous occurrences and to reduce their impact.
"In the last four years alone, it has invested more than £4bn in offshore asset integrity and it is extremely encouraging to note that the number of major and significant hydrocarbon releases fell by 17.5% in 2008-09, to the lowest figure on record.
"Step Change in Safety, the UK's flagship safety initiative, has created a specific asset integrity workgroup to support industry-wide engagement on asset integrity issues. Step Change's Hydrocarbon Release Reduction Toolkit has also been revised and updated.
"Both of these projects will support our aims to further reduce the rate of hydrocarbon releases. However despite the progress made, we know that safety is never done. We are resolved to keep full focus on this important issue throughout the life cycle of the industry, irrespective of the prevailing economic climate.
"We are in a fundamentally different place today. However, we recognise that we can never be complacent with regard to the safety of our workforce.
"While overall the injury rate is coming down, the latest statistics also show that the accidents which do happen have tended to be of a more serious nature.
"It is therefore important that we engage in an industry-wide dialogue, including the regulator, trade unions and the workforce, to look at those areas where our efforts have seen an improvement, such as the rate of 3-day injuries and minor injuries. We need to understand what we are doing right and apply this knowledge widely to reduce the risk of major injuries."
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