Oil & Gas UK ‘yet to see’ evidence concerning allegations of improper commercial pressure affecting safety outcomes

Bhelicopter rotor bladesy REBECCA SHEARER

Oil and Gas UK – the trade association for the North Sea offshore industry – has denied claims of workers allegedly being bullied by their bosses into compromising on helicopter flight safety.

The claims were included in the Westminster Parliament’s Transport Committee report on offshore helicopter safety – in which MPs called for a full, independent, review.

MP Louise Ellman, Chairman of the Transport Committee, said: “Survivors of the Sumburgh crash told us that they did not use the emergency breathing system provided on the helicopter because the information given to them by the safety video was flawed.

Commenting on the Transport Select Committee’s report into offshore helicopter safety, Oil & Gas UK Health and Safety Director Robert Paterson said:

“We have yet to see any evidence of the unsubstantiated allegations concerning improper commercial pressure affecting safety outcomes which are repeated in this report.  It is vital that everyone plays their part in keeping the workforce safe and if anyone has evidence of commercial issues overriding good safety practices, they must report this immediately. 

“There are many ways to do this – safety representatives, Trade Unions, the Inter Union Offshore Oil Committee (IUOOC), Step Change in Safety, the Helicopter Safety Steering Group, the new CAA forum – Offshore Helicopter Safety Advisory Group (OHSAG) or indeed direct to Oil & Gas UK or the CAA.”

“Safety is a key priority for the oil and gas industry and we never stop working to find opportunities to make our workforce safer. The CAA, government, trade unions, oil and gas companies, helicopter operators and the workforce all have a vital role to play in this.

“The Helicopter Safety Steering Group is an excellent ongoing example of good collaboration in practice and the recent industry-driven effort to implement the new and improved Emergency Breathing System 18 months ahead of the original CAA deadline is another.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority – which is responsible for UK air traffic safety – added: ‘Any loss of life in aviation accidents is always tragic and the safety of those who rely on offshore helicopter flights is therefore our absolute priority.

“In February we announced over 70 actions and recommendations to improve safety, primarily aimed at preventing accidents but also to improve survivability following an incident. These were widely welcomed by unions, helicopter operators, the oil and gas industry and Norwegian regulators and are bringing significant improvements in safety for those flying offshore in the UK and potentially worldwide.

“The CAA-led Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group is ensuring operators and industry implement these changes as quickly as possible. Made up of the offshore helicopter operators, oil and gas industry and offshore workforce and pilot representatives, it has already overseen the approval of a new significantly enhanced underwater emergency breathing system for offshore workers.”


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