North Sea safer despite ‘challenging’ 2016

The North Sea is safer than ever according to the latest statistics despite 2016 being a “challenging year” with one platform death and a helicopter crash which killed 13 people.

Dangerous occurrences which have the potential to cause serious incidents are the lowest on record, with 292 recorded in 2016.

This includes hydrocarbon releases, fire explosions and dropped objects.

The number of recorded major or significant oil and gas releases is also at its lowest level since records began.

However one offshore worker died after a container fell on him.

Tyron Jones, 43, was crushed on Perenco’s 23A gas platform in the southern North Sea on December 5, 2016.

And in April, 2016, 13 people died when a Super Puma helicopter crashed off the coast of Norway, killing everyone on board including Iain Stuart from Laurencekirk.

In its annual health and safety report, industry body Oil and Gas UK said this underlined the importance of never letting up on the drive to achieve the highest levels of safety.

Mick Borwell, Health, Safety and Environment Policy Director with Oil and Gas UK, said: “Our report reflects the continued industry-wide effort we make to maintain focus on the safety of our people and operations. That effort is paying back in the form of an improving overall performance.

“Nevertheless, 2016 was a year with fatalities in the UK and Norwegian sectors. The helicopter tragedy off Norway, which took the lives of 13 people, and a further non-fatal helicopter incident in the UK, has led to continued scrutiny of aviation safety. All such incidents are investigated and the findings shared across the sector.

“While these incidents cast a shadow over the year, it is important to recognise where progress has been made.

“Process safety incidents – which includes oil and gas releases, fires or explosions and dropped objects – are at the lowest on record. There has been a sustained overall downward trend in the total number of these hydrocarbon releases reported since a peak in 2004. Prevention of releases remains an absolute priority.

“We are also continuing to see reductions in the safety-critical maintenance backlog – an area industry has worked hard to address.

“The collaborative work across industry to improve safety performance is delivering. However, to drive further improvement, we must maintain our focus and collective determination and ensure that safety remains at the heart of all our operations.”

Other highlights of the report show that there were 113 reportable injuries in over 50 million manhours worked offshore.

It is the second lowest number of reportable injuries since the mid-1990s when the safety regulations came into force in the aftermath of the Cullen report.

The most common type of injury were strains and sprains.

The most common cause of medevacs were suspected “cardiac” related issues.

The report also found the three-year average non-fatal injury rate is less than half of construction and transport sectors.

The safety critical maintenance backlog also continues to reduce.

Nearly 100,000 offshore medicals were carried out last year, with only 1.1% failing.

The most common reasons for failure were blood pressure (23%), diabetes (12%) and cardiovascular diseases (9%)

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