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Piper Alpha survivor braves burning environment for first time in 33 years

© Supplied by Rig DelugePiper Alpha survivor
Joe Meanen is among the 61 survivors of the Piper Alpha disaster

A survivor of Piper Alpha has returned to an environment involving flames for the first time since the tragic incident 33 years ago to raise safety awareness.

Joe Meanen was one of the 61 survivors of what remains the worst ever offshore disaster which claimed the lives of 167 people in 1988.

Mr Meanen teamed up with fire safety specialist RigDeluge and training provider AIS Survivex for a “Safety In Mind” event in Montrose this month, where he discussed the psychology around offshore safety.

That included entering a simulated offshore burning module with a failed sprinkler system.

He told Energy Voice: “I was slightly nervous beforehand but once I got on I was fine. I’ve never been too frightened about facing up to things…

“I just thought that if I need to go up and speak and make my presentation, I need to remind myself what-like it was, face up to things, see what’s involved for my own benefit.”

The aim of the event, attended by a range of workers from operators and supply chain, was to emphasise the importance of competency and hands-on experience offshore.

RigDeluge managing director Ian Garden said the mindset around fire safety offshore played an important part.

“When you go to work today, you expect that everyone is taking care of their own piece of the puzzle for safety, because everyone talks about safety.

“That’s when you get a snowblindedness, so you think to yourself ‘it will never happen to us’.”

Piper Alpha survivor © Supplied by RigDeluge
Joe Meanen addressing the Safety in Mind event in Montrose

Mr Meanen added: “It’s just in peoples’ psychology. ‘That incident or that disaster is never going to happen to us, it will happen to somebody else’. We kicked that about during the event.

“99% of the time, people are right, it’ll not happen to them, I probably thought that before Piper Alpha myself. But when you do get caught up in these things it is a huge difference to everyone’s lives who were involved in it.”

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