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Safety fears over basket transfers

Safety fears over basket transfers
Offshore workers have been asked by their bosses to transfer to installations by basket transfer from boats, it emerged yesterday.

Offshore workers have been asked by their bosses to transfer to installations by basket transfer from boats, it emerged yesterday.

Union representatives have received e-mails from workers and messages have been posted on social networking sites about the use of vessel transfers.

One union boss said last night they would be concerned about the safety implications of using the basket and crane method.

A backlog of workers requiring to travel on and offshore built up after all Super Puma helicopters were suspended when an EC225 model had to land on the sea 14 miles from Fair Isle.

The aircraft was operated by CHC Helicopters which, along with Bristow and Bond, stopped all Super Pumas prior to a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) restriction order being imposed. Last week, nine Super Pumas were reinstated but 25 aircraft remained unavailable.

A spokesman for CHC said it would come down to offshore operators to look into alternative ways of transferring workers.

Basket transfer involves workers being transported by boat to oil rigs where a crane is used to move a basket, containing several workers, on to a rig.

RMT union regional organiser Jake Molloy said: “Every option has to be looked at and what the workers have raised with me is the idea of a vessel, commonly used during shutdown periods to transport people to an offshore field or location, and a helicopter shuttle system from the vessel to the various installations.

“This method can be used to down and up man very quickly and would be the preferred method.”

A spokesman for Oil and Gas UK said: “Boat transfers are not available to all companies because only certain installations are equipped for that.”

Meanwhile, the same EC225 helicopter required maintenance work on two different occasions in the days before the ditching.

The helicopter had to be repaired on the Total operated Elgin and North Alwyn platforms.

A CHC spokesman said that on both occasions the craft was grounded for a few hours and the issues were not the same fault that led to last week’s ditching.

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