UK's HSE Says Industry Must Do More to Meet Offshore Safety Targets

UK The Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published safety statistics for the offshore industry during 2005/06. The figures show that two workers were killed and 50 suffered major injuries. This compares to no fatalities and 48 major injuries in 2004/05. The offshore statistics bulletin is available at:

The combined fatal and major injury rate decreased by 11 per cent to 225.4 per 100,000 workers compared with 253.4 in 2004/05. This improvement is explained by the 21 per cent rise in the number of people working offshore.

Commenting on the statistics, Ian Whewell, Head of HSE's Offshore Division said: "The figures show continued improvements in the incident rates for the more serious incidents and I welcome this. However, whilst rates are important, the cold fact is that two men died last year and a further 50 people were seriously injured. The industry must now push on with its programs of improvement if it is to deliver its agreed objectives of being the safest sector in the world by 2010 and to bring about more pronounced incident rate reductions.

"The offshore industry faces considerable challenges as the North Sea infrastructure ages. Many offshore installations have exceeded their expected working lives and requirements for maintenance, repair and replacement are now increasing rapidly. HSE believes that the goals of significantly improving installation integrity and securing a long safe future for the UK Continental Shelf are inseparable and that investment in infrastructure is crucial to securing a safe and sustainable offshore environment."

Ian Whewell added: "Senior management commitment across the industry is high and the partnership infrastructure is in place and working to bring improvements, but there is still more to be done. On our part, we will continue to focus on the fundamental safety issues for the offshore industry, which are plant integrity, safe systems of work, supervision and risk assessment. In particular, we have been able to feed back good practice and lessons learned to industry, and I am pleased to see that the statistics show that dangerous occurrences, many of which are precursors to major incidents, have decreased."

Alan Brown of ExxonMobil, Co-Chair of Step Change in Safety, said: "Although we see improvements in offshore safety, the latest statistics show that we still have much to do if we are to achieve our Step Change vision of making the UK the safest oil and gas region in the world by 2010. We want to ensure that everyone returns home safely, and nobody gets hurt.

"There is currently a high level of energy across industry from drill floor to boardroom focused on achieving our Step Change vision. Over the next two months, more that 70 companies will be involved in leadership visits to our UK onshore and offshore installations to discuss safety with all members of our workforce, and specifically, to capture improvement ideas and address safety concerns. Working together we are convinced we can make a step change improvement and achieve our 2010 vision."

Doug Halkett of Transocean, the other Co-Chair of Step Change in Safety added: "We are creating a more dynamic safety culture where the sharing of information and best practice is becoming the standard way we do business. Safety is our number one priority; we are challenging how we have worked in the past and encouraging greater debate about what we need to change to improve our safety performance in the future. Step Change believes that our industry can achieve the 2010 vision if everyone is involved and committed to world class safety across the UK sector."