I posted this on Linked-In a few months back:
I wanted to share this with all of my colleagues in the offshore industry. This is a photo of my Dad, David Gorman. He was the safety officer on Piper Alpha, and on the night of the tragedy he was killed along with the other 166 men.
I now work in safety offshore and I am now a Dad, as are many of my colleagues, there are also mums, sons and daughters offshore too. We can sometimes lose perspective and fail to realise what a dangerous environment we work in. Offshore is a place where a wrong decision can cost a family dearly.
We must remind ourselves of our responsibility to each other’s families and ensure we are all doing everything in our power to prevent people from being hurt, or worse.
I believe we are all here to do a job, to drive our business forward, to provide for our families and to get home safely. This picture could be any offshore worker, in any boot room on any rig.
Stay safe and look after each other.
The response I received was quite overwhelming. One thing was clear: Piper Alpha is still very much alive and kicking.
I took the decision to work offshore at the age my father was when he lost his life (41). This may seem like a strange choice but, for me, it was something I simply had to do.
I had always felt a strong connection to the industry my Dad lost his life to.
He always told me that safety was about people and families. I wanted to learn about the people and their families, their jobs, their perception of safety, and how safety had changed over the years since the Piper tragedy.
Is safety something that is now ‘in the blood’ of the workforce, and does everyone really understand, as my Dad did, that it’s all about people and families?
To try and get these answers I started as a roustabout with a drilling company, worked through to radio operator & safety rep and I’m now qualified and trying to make offshore safety my career. I want to carry on the work my Dad started all those years ago.
Have we learned lessons? Well, on one hand I find we are occasionally still in the grip of the horrifying dinosaur.
The “Just get it done while no-one is looking” or “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude towards safety.
On the other hand, we are certainly making very good progress towards leaving these attitudes in the past where they belong, and taking a far more intelligent and measured approach towards the bond between safety and our work offshore.
I find resistance to the latter insulting and disrespectful to the men and women who have lost their lives to bring us all the tools and controls we now have at our fingertips.
STOP/BOS cards, risk assessments, tool box talks, permit to work and written procedures to name a few. These tools and the commitment from employers to allow time to use them, gives me a great deal of confidence that we really can help each other to look after our families.
I do feel, however we are not moving fast enough, and after 27 years since Piper, we should really be much further forward than we currently are.
Mention the word ‘Safety’ offshore and it is usually received with a groan. It’s become a negative word, which can’t be a good thing.
It surely indicates that safety being about people and families has become lost somewhere along the road. I want to put this right and make safety a positive word that is seen to improve the lives of the many people that work offshore.
To have real safety we need trust, we need a blameless safety culture where everyone is open and honest so we can truly learn from our mistakes.
I can’t do this alone, so who would like to help me?