Oil and Gas UK has set up a last resort e-mail address for offshore workers worried their helicopter safety concerns are not being addressed.
It is being made available under new guidelines for handling passenger safety concerns drawn up by the Helicopter Task Group, set up in the wake of two incidents last year in one of which all 16 aboard a crashed Super Puma died and in the other all 18 were rescued after their helicopter ditched in the North Sea.
Posters detailing the guidelines are being displayed at heliports and flyers made available to passengers ashore and on offshore installations.
The aim is to help restore confidence in the sole viable transportation for those working offshore.
Aberdeen South Labour MP Anne Begg said: “The workers who have no choice but to use a helicopter to get to their place of work, have to feel secure that if they have any concerns they can raise them and they will be taken seriously.
“It is important that they know how to raise these concerns, and that action will be taken to address them. This is an important step forward in improving offshore safety.”
The guidelines, developed with helicopter operators, the pilots and unions, advise passengers not to disturb pilots with concerns during a flight except when there is “an immediate concern about a safety related issue” such as “smoke, fire or fluid in quantity” when they “should contact the pilots directly”.
It says immediate concerns should be communicated to the helicopter landing officer before the helicopter departs the helideck.
General questions should be passed through administrative channels to the operator’s onshore team to raise with the helicopter firm.
Concerns not requiring the immediate attention of the crew during an inbound flight should be brought to the attention of a member of the helicopter company’s ground staff on arrival to be passed on to the appropriate company department for investigation.
The guidelines state those who feel issues have not been properly addressed should raise them with their company’s logistics departments.
They add: “If questions still remain after this, an e-mail address has been set up where specific queries can be lodged: firstname.lastname@example.org
“This inbox is administered by Oil & Gas UK, who will pass inquiries on to the relevant helicopter operator.”
The guidelines follow the agreement last week to introduce a new generation of personal locator beacons for all passengers following the withdrawal of earlier versions found to interfere with helicopter location beacons in the incident in which helicopter ditched near an installation offshore last year.