Safety Standards Harmonized in the North Sea

The chief executives of four national oil and gas associations will finalize a new agreement harmonizing a number of offshore safety training standards in the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark on October 10, 2007.

The agreement between Oil & Gas UK, OLF, NSOC-D and NOGEPA will come into effect on November 1, 2007 and is expected to enhance the free movement of workers in the offshore industry and reduce the unnecessary and time consuming duplication of training.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK explained: After three years of work we can now report considerable progress on mutual recognition of basic offshore safety and emergency training. All four national bodies have revisited their standards and made changes that have brought them much closer together. They now recognize safety training given in each of the countries and accept training schools and courses approved by the other National Associations.

This new agreement will provide considerable benefits to our industry. It still allows for minor differences in national requirements, yet enhanced mutual recognition means that an offshore worker traveling from UK to Norway will now do less than four hours additional training as opposed to the current two days, without any loss in the effectiveness of the training.

Basic offshore safety training for UK workers includes use of survival equipment for helicopter travel, helicopter underwater escape training, sea survival techniques, awareness of hazards on offshore installations and how these are managed, basic fire fighting and first aid skills and evacuation procedures from an offshore installation in the event of a major incident.

Under the new agreement, additional training for UK workers includes:

  • two hours of first aid training (Norway expects all of their workers to practice elementary first aid. The UK does provide basic first aid awareness training for all workers, but relies more on trained first aiders);
  • Additional training on the Norwegian type of survival suit and training on escape chutes, which are fitted more commonly on Norwegian installations for workers.