UK's HSE Says Offshore Safety Statistics Improve

Offshore safety statistics for 2004/05 show a reduction in the rate of fatal and major injuries to workers with the number of work-related deaths standing at zero, compared to three in 2003/04.

The provisional statistics, which also reveal that there were 48 major injuries during the reporting period, are contained within the Offshore Safety Statistics Bulletin 2004/05 which was released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Bulletin sets out the headline health and safety statistics for the offshore oil and gas industries and provides an important indicator of health and safety performance in the sector. It is prepared specifically for the offshore workforce and their safety representatives and is available to all via the HSE website.

Commenting on the statistics, Taf Powell, Head of HSE's Offshore Division, said: "The annual statistics bulletin is now, in effect, an 'end of year report' on progress towards the industry ambition to make the UK continental shelf the world's safest offshore sector by 2010. The statistics show that we are heading in the right direction, but, in my view, not fast enough. There is a lot of activity to align industry resources behind the 2010 goal but there are a number of critical challenges".

Powell explained: "We need to secure the active cooperation of all those who operate and work offshore, at every level from boardroom to deck crew, both offshore and on the beach. I am not satisfied that this is the case yet, although there is outstanding leadership in a number of companies, and at all levels".

Powell added: "The key issues for the industry in a maturing offshore province, such as the North Sea, are upgrading ageing facilities and accommodation, and delivering the high performance technical solutions that Britain expects. This requires commitment and investment. A large number of companies, including, encouragingly, smaller independent operators are demonstrating such commitment and I take this as an indicator that the 2010 goal is attainable".

John Taylor, Chairman of the Inter Union Offshore Oil Committee said: "The recent statistics show an overall improvement in safety offshore, which the trade unions welcome, and this is as a direct result of all stakeholders working in partnership to achieve a safer working environment. This success should bring new focus to ensuring that the targets the industry agreed can be achieved before 2010. It is our hope that some of the new initiatives on which, all sides of industry – HSE, trade unions & employers – have been working closely together, within Step Change and OIAC, will continue to bring improvements on safety offshore."

Gary Luquette, President and Managing Director, Chevron Upstream Europe and Chairman of Step Change in Safety, said: "Whilst the statistics support the industry's view that safety is improving, as long as we continue to experience injuries in our industry we still have more work to do. Step Change in Safety has refocused its strategy to engage the whole of the workforce, from MDs to the drilling floor, to accelerate the pace of improvement in offshore safety performance. This new approach was endorsed by the industry in May 2005 to change behaviours and to demonstrate our personal ownership for safety throughout the industry. There is no room for compromise where safety is concerned and no one should be afraid to speak up if safety is at risk. We are committed to achieving our goal to make the UK the safest place to work in the worldwide oil and gas industry by 2010."

Powell concluded: "The goal of permanently eliminating fatalities, securing significant reductions of incidents, near misses and hydrocarbon releases is a lynchpin of the program to secure a long term sustainable economic future for our offshore industry. Next month at Offshore Europe, HSE will take the opportunity to emphasise that investment in safety is key to securing the sustainability of the UK Continental Shelf offshore oil and gas industry.

Copies of Offshore Safety Statistics Bulletin 2004/2005 can be viewed on the HSE website at:

The Offshore Safety Statistics Bulletin is designed to show provisional headline figures before a more detailed statistical analysis is published later in the year. It records fatalities, reportable injuries, occurrences of ill health and dangerous occurrences reported to HSE between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2005 under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

Due to delays in receiving the results of the Inland Revenue offshore population survey for 2004/05 there have been difficulties in establishing whether the offshore workforce is larger or smaller than last year meaning the rates of incidents cannot be ascertained with complete confidence. As a result, HSE has decided to use a provisional figure of 18,940 workers, which was obtained using the Vantage system via StepChange in Safety. Further details can be found in the Bulletin.

Following publication of its 2003/04 Bulletin HSE began investigating why over-three-day injuries appear to be declining faster than fatal and major injuries. Although numbers are small and sensitive, HSE is exploring this further.

Step Change in Safety: is a key industry initiative launched in September 1997 to improve health and safety performance, awareness and behaviours throughout the UK oil and gas industry. It is supported by all the sector's major trade associations, the trade unions, HSE and Cogent (the industry's Sector Skills Council).