Diamond Offshore has received a warning from the safety regulator after “asbestos debris” was spread on a North Sea rig.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Diamond Offshore failed to protect workers on the Ocean Valiant rig from exposure to asbestos fibres.
The incident, in September last year, took place on the Ocean Valiant while repairs were being made on a diesel engine which generates power on board.
However, insulation against asbestos had been damaged in the unit, leading to the debris being “dispersed to the surrounding walkway and engine block thereby creating the risk of potential exposure of the crew to asbestos fibres”.
The HSE has now issued an improvement notice stating Diamond Offshore did not take steps to protect employees.
The note, to the US firm’s Aberdeen office, pointed out a lack of training for workers and assessment of whether asbestos was likely to be present on board.
Asbestos is a strictly regulated substance that was once used widely in construction materials and is present on board some older offshore rigs.
Inhalation of asbestos fibres has been linked to several diseases including mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer which has a 40 year latency period before symptoms develop.
The HSE notice states that analysis of the fibres found chrysotile, exposure to which leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.
Diamond Offshore has been contacted to comment.
The Asbestos Action charity, based in Dundee states: “There is no safe type of asbestos and no safe level of exposure. Nearly all those with exposure history are potentially at risk of serious respiratory health complications.”
Diamond Offshore has until October 1 to comply with the notice with improvements around asbestos assessment and training.
The firm’s North Sea operations are based out of its Dyce offices in Aberdeen.