One fatal N. Sea accident in 2016 as serious lapses in process safety fall to all-time low

Potentially dangerous offshore safety lapses – which have the potential to cause serious incidents and include oil and gas releases, dropped objects and fires and explosions – were the lowest on record last year in the North Sea.

But – tragically –  there was one fatality in 2016, which occurred during unloading of a container offshore. There were no fatalities in 2015.

An Oil and Gas UK spokesman commented: “This – sadly –  underlines how this major hazard-potential industry can never let up on its drive to achieve the highest levels of safety performance.”

Performance highlights of the 2017 Oil and Gas UK report –  which demonstrates the industry’s continued focus on safety – included:

  • Six operators had no dangerous occurrences in 2016
  • Nine operators had no reportable injuries in 2016
  • Major and significant oil and gas releases are at an all-time low
  • The three-year average non-fatal injury rate is less than half of construction and transport sectors.

There were 113 reportable injuries in over 50 million man-hours worked offshore – the second lowest number of reportable injuries since the mid-1990s when the safety regulations came into force.

The most common types of injury were strains and sprains

Mick Borwell, Health and Safety Director at Oil & Gas UK, said: “Our report reflects the continued industry-wide effort we make to maintain focus on the safety of our people and operations. That effort is paying back in the form of an improving overall performance.

“Nevertheless, 2016 was a year with fatalities in the UK and Norwegian sectors. The helicopter tragedy off Norway, which took the lives of 13 people, and a further non-fatal helicopter incident in the UK, has led to continued scrutiny of aviation safety.  All such incidents are investigated and the findings shared across the sector.

“While these incidents cast a shadow over the year, it is important to recognise where progress has been made.

“Process safety incidents – which includes oil and gas releases, fires or explosions and dropped objects – are at the lowest on record. There has been a sustained overall downward trend in the total number of these hydrocarbon releases reported since a peak in 2004. Prevention of releases remains an absolute priority.

“We are also continuing to see reductions in the safety-critical maintenance backlog – an area industry has worked hard to address.

“The collaborative work across industry to improve safety performance is delivering. However, to drive further improvement, we must maintain our focus and collective determination and ensure that safety remains at the heart of all our operations.”

28 July 2017

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