UKCS O&G Industry's Safety Initiative Updates Employee, Training Standards

The UK offshore oil and gas industry's flagship safety initiative Step Change in Safety is currently creating new, OPITO approved, minimum safety training standards for employees working on installations in the UKCS. The new standards are being developed following concerns raised by the workforce about basic safety competence, particularly for new starts in the industry.

The new set of minimum standards covers nine basic safety elements, including the core topics of risk assessment and permit to work, but also introducing new key safety awareness centerd on mechanical lifting and platform integrity.

John Methven, co-chair of Step Change in Safety, said, "Currently, basic safety training is carried out to different depths of understanding and covers varying safety elements. Every worker on the UKCS is required to complete basic offshore survival training; however this does not include training on risk assessment, process safety or platform integrity. These elements are normally covered through additional in-house training, but the core content can vary from company to company.

"By undertaking the new additional elements of basic safety training through a registered training center, every employee working on an installation on the UKCS will have the same starting level of safety understanding and awareness. The Vantage POB system will be updated and there will be no need for individuals to undergo similar or repetitive training every time they visit a different installation; subject to any required company or site specific induction."

Alan Chesterman, leader of the Step Change in Safety competence work group, which drew up the standards, added, "We didnt reinvent the wheel -- 90% of the content is not new and people will recognize it. But although the basics are essentially the same, right now there's a lack of consistency. We recognize that adopting common standards and engaging the essential support to apply them uniformly across industry is a challenge, but there is a real prize out there. We believe that training people consistently and using Vantage tracking to ensure everyone is trained to that level will bring significant safety improvements. Now it's up to each individual company to implement the standards."

The new competence standards will be rolled out in two phases. The first phase will especially target new starts in the offshore industry and will include training in all nine modules. This training will be available from the end of 2008.

The second phase will be the introduction of a newly developed, computer-based system for experienced offshore workers. This new e-learning skills test will identify and fill gaps in training and will be subject to a refresher every four years. The new system will be available early 2009.

John Methven and Rick Cohagan, co-chairs of Step Change in Safety, will introduce the new standards to industry at the next Oil & Gas UK breakfast on August 20, 2008, sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland.