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North Sea sector lags behind

North Sea sector lags behind
Offshore safety in the UK North Sea has seen major improvements - but in one area still lags behind the rest of the world, it was revealed in Aberdeen yesterday.

Offshore safety in the UK North Sea has seen major improvements – but in one area still lags behind the rest of the world, it was revealed in Aberdeen yesterday.

On a measure of time taken off by workers due to injuries, the safety performance of the sector in the UK and Europe lags behind regions including Nigeria, South America, Asia and the Middle East.

This put it, alongside Europe, at the bottom of the global performance league, an oil and gas industry event was told.

The revelation came as a surprise to some members of the audience at the Oil & Gas UK event focusing on initiatives by industry body Step Change in Safety.

Most, in a straw poll, had guessed the basin would be in the middle of the pile when it came to safety performance.

The event was also told that more work needed to be done to engage the workers – with only four of 500 safety reps invited to attend the event having responded to the invitation and few workers were aware of what Step Change in Safety was about.

Ken Robertson, co-chairman of Step Change in Safety, and an asset leader for Shell, said the body had achieved a lot.

“I think what we have in Step Change in Safety is unique,” he said. “The sector’s injury performance rate sits between education and retail, which is an impressive performance considering the industry we are in.”

He said Step Change in Safety was founded in 1997 because the performance levels in the industry were poor. Since then there had been a 55% reduction in fatalities and major injuries, a 69% drop in over-three-day injuries and a 66% drop in major oil and gas leaks.

“But, whilst we have made significant progress, there is still big change ahead, not just personal safety but also process safety as well.”

Mr Robertson said that, looking at the global lost- time injury rate, the UK was the worst in the world alongside Europe.

He said he had recently visited operations in Nigeria and found their safety performance to be better than the UK average, it is thought because of a culture of compliance – workers do exactly as procedure tells them. Mr Robertson said in the UK it was found 70% of lost-time injuries were due to non-compliance.

Safety rep William Watt, who works for Chevron, said better engagement with the workforce was needed.

He said firms needed to collaborate on what they did well, talk about issues when they went wrong and act on them.

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