UK: Offshore Workers Call for Safer Helicopter Transfers

Over 3,000 offshore workers have called on Oil & Gas UK (O&GUK) bosses to urgently act in order to improve the safety of helicopter transfers to and from North Sea installations.

Unite representatives submitted a petition to O&GUK Friday 20th December, backing the demands of the ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign which calls for improvements to offshore helicopter design, survival contingencies and training and to implement all previous recommendations made by authorities to maximise the safety of workers.

This petition also coincides with further findings released last week by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) that August’s fatal crash of the Super Puma AS332 L2 returning from the Borgsten Dolphin platform was ‘survivable’.

Four people perished when their helicopter ditched in the waters off the south Shetland coast, three as a result of drowning.

Unite regional industrial officer Tommy Campbell said, “The views of over 3,000 offshore workers cannot be ignored and their collective voice is loud and clear: They want safer helicopter transfers to and from installations in the UK Continental Shelf.

“August’s ditching was the fifth such incident in four years and the death of four people raised the total number of fatalities to twenty, with sixteen people having perished in April 2009 – an incident for which the Fatal Accident Inquiry process into those deaths will only begin next month.

“Confidence has clearly been shattered and the industry now needs to demonstrate that it is prepared to evolve and improve the safety of its offshore helicopter fleet and its survival training so that we can minimise the chances of future fatalities.

“O&GUK can help start this process now by working with Unite and implementing the demands of our Back Home Safe campaign which thousands of offshore workers are now actively supporting.”

The demands of the Back Home Safe campaign are:

•        Safer emergency lighting and seating configuration in all offshore helicopters to aid evacuation;
•        Immediate implementation of all safety recommendations from past offshore helicopter incidents;
•        Independent review to improve contingencies in the event of a ditching (to maximise the survival time for workers); and
•        Improved survival equipment and training for workers.

Oil & Gas UK Puzzled

Oil & Gas UK has confirm it has received Unite’s Back Home Safe petition and said it was “puzzled as to why Unite is running this separate campaign given its involvement in the HTG and considering the fact that many of the issues raised by the campaign have already been, or currently are, in the process of being addressed by the appropriate organisation with the remit and power to implement changes.”

“Implementation of safety recommendations from past incidents are largely the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Oil & Gas UK is not aware of any recommendation that has not been acted upon,” O&GUK said.

December 23, 2013

 

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