MPs have praised health and safety professionals for making the offshore oil industry a far safer place – 50 years after Britain’s first major oil rig accident.
Thirteen people died on the metal fatigue-hit Sea Gem rig when the structure collapsed as it was getting transferred to another site.
In addition, 5 people suffered injuries when workers and apparatus fell into the ice-laced North Sea 42 miles (67km) east of the River Humber.
Sunday (December 27) marked the disaster’s 50th anniversary.
MPs and safety specialists believe the tragedy should never be forgotten to remind people how key offshore industry health and safety is.
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) officials have warned that the sector faces fresh safety challenges from new technology and ageing installations.
Benefits of Offshore Safety Act
It has also recognised the advance of safety improvements since then, which have included the 1992 Offshore Safety Act. This made law things such as the safe disposal, removal and dismantling of offshore pipelines and fittings.
The 1965 accident itself brought a public inquiry which implemented many alterations to upgrade safety on oil rigs, such as the employment of a special stand-by rescue boat.
MPs this month tabled an early day motion 12 days before the anniversary to commemorate the disaster. The motion “commended” health and safety professionals’ work in bringing about improvements within the industry.
Members urged that the sector addresses the asset integrity, ageing installation, safety-critical maintenance and other “considerable” challenges ahead.
The Institution’s offshore group chair Simon Hatson has expressed his delight that MPs have marked the special anniversary, praised health and safety practitioners and outlined future challenges. He says safety is undoubtedly better and standards far more robust.
Offshore oil rig working dangers
Mr Hatson says that there are several “unique” dangers still facing employees working on offshore oil rigs. Oil rigs and their workers are frequently buffeted by huge waves and storm-force winds.
Several of these employees work outdoors in such conditions performing tough physical jobs that would present arduous challenges even in nice weather. Staff must be highly supervised, skilled and trained and the apparatus regularly and strenuously checked
Mr Hatson says that such risks of harm can be substantially lowered by getting the correct health and safety management procedures in place.
Date Published: January 11, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown