New OPITO MD to lead roll-out of safety training standards

  • Business & Finance

Former RAF aircrew, Colin Griffiths, is joining OPITO International as managing director to lead the roll-out of common safety training standards across the global oil and gas industry. 

Mr Griffiths will take up his new appointment, based in Dubai, at the end of October 2014, replacing out-going managing director Ian Laing who is retiring after seven years in the role.

Funded by industry, for industry, OPITO has a proven track-record in responding to the global oil and gas industry’s training needs. Having successfully designed and monitored safety training standards in the North Sea for many years, OPITO created an international organisational structure to support its global roll-out of safety standards and workforce development. Today around 250,000 people in 40 countries are training to those standards every year, helping improve safety and competency in oil and gas.

Joining OPITO from Talisman Sinopec in Aberdeen, where he was operations superintendent responsible for day-to-day operations of two North Sea assets, Mr Griffiths will lead OPITO International’s drive for the adoption of common global safety training standards.

Having trained as an electrical engineer with British Steel, Mr Griffiths spent eight years front line flying with the RAF where he was responsible for conducting electronic surveillance as a member of the Nimrod crew which carried out search and rescue and anti-terrorist missions. He entered the oil and gas industry in 1990 as an engineering contractor for Shell, moving into projects and operations before joining Talisman Sinopec in 2012.

Commenting on his new role, Mr Griffiths said: “The success of the oil and gas industry is on achieving the right balance between optimising production and ensuring the safety of our people. Safety therefore features in everything we do. Wherever we are in the world, we need to set standards in training and competency before we send people offshore or into other hazardous environments. I am passionate about and totally motivated by getting the safety piece right which is why I am both privileged and excited to be taking up this international role with OPITO – the standard-bearer for our industry.”

Mr Griffiths believes there are significant parallels between the RAF and the oil and gas industry. He said: “The Nimrod was the workhorse of the RAF; it had performed with distinction in every major conflict since 1969 with the assumption that it would always be a safe platform, but in 2006 over Afghanistan we lost an aircraft and its entire crew, not through enemy action but due to a poorly constructed safety case and organisational failings. This was a tragedy for those involved, their families and the RAF. Having known every member of that crew, I am fully aware of the impact it has on everyone, in the same way that those affected by recent offshore fatal incidents, whether it be on-board platforms or helicopters, suffered and continue to suffer.

Ageing offshore assets and creeping complacency in oil and gas can have catastrophic repercussions. Too often people are focused on the task rather than on the safety which is what causes accidents. OPITO aims to make sure that every oil and gas worker anywhere in the world is totally focused on safety with the right training and competence to carry out the task.” 

Group chief executive of OPITO, David Doig, said: “OPITO’s proven track record internationally is in safe hands with Colin. His passion for the challenges ahead of us as we seek to embed the OPITO standards framework in every oil and gas province around the world, will ensure we continue to effectively engage with employers, government and regulators and deliver high-value long-term change in relation to safety.”

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