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Case study: Piper Alpha explosion of 1988

At approximately 22:00, on July the 6th 1988, 167 people died in what has since been regarded as the worst offshore accident in the world. Within seconds of an explosion occurring on the North Sea gas and oil producing facility known as the Piper Alpha Platform, a major fire involving un-stabilised crude oil developed, engulfing all but the lower platform parts and the wellhead. The fire swiftly escalated, and 20 minutes later, the first out of three gas risers failed catastrophically.

Accidents at work

This terrible incident shocked the world and gave rise to major investigations into the causes of this disaster. It is believed that the ultimate causes of the explosion, the ensuing fire and the catastrophic failure of the gas risers was down to a combination of design and organisational issues, human error and lack of safety procedures and training. In the long run, the results of the investigations resulted in major improvements within all aspects of offshore facilities and operators’ duty to prevent injuries at work.

Preventing workplace accidents

Today, offshore facilities and other potentially dangerous working environments are subject to strict health and safety regulations. Design and engineering are being continually improved, and workers have to be provided with suitable protective gear and trained sufficiently in safe working and emergency procedures. While this by no means eases the grief of those who lost family members in the tragic events on Piper Alpha, it does help to prevent further loss of life to accidents on oil and gas platforms.

Claiming for compensation

Claiming industrial injury compensation after being injured at work is not just about getting financial help with medical bills, potential care and so on. It is also important in the continuous battle against breaches of care of duty by employers and employees alike. Compensation claims typically result in workplace accidents being investigated in order to determine who was responsible for the incident. Where health and safety regulations were not met, such an investigation may bring about the necessary changes to ensure others do not fall victim to the same type of work accident in the future.

Accident Advice Helpline

If you were injured doing your job through no fault of your own, call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 5659 to find out whether you qualify to make a claim. Calls are free and strictly confidential. When your claim is initiated, it will be dealt with by highly experienced lawyers on a no win no fee basis.