Safety in UK offshore oil & gas sector improving, report says

Golden Eagle field in the UK North Sea; Image source: Nexen (For illustration)

The latest annual health and safety data published for the UK offshore oil and gas industry signals a continued trend of improving performance despite 2016 being a challenging year, Oil & Gas UK has said. 

The sector’s trade body on Thursday, July 27 published its Health & Safety Report 2017 – capturing the significant trends, issues and themes of the sector’s performance on the UK Continental Shelf during 2016.

According to the industry’s trade body, the report demonstrates that industry’s continued focus on safety is delivering.

The report highlights that dangerous occurrences – which have the potential to cause serious incidents and include oil and gas releases, dropped objects and fires and explosions – are the lowest on record. Further to that, six operators had no dangerous occurrences in 2016.

Furthermore, major and significant oil and gas releases are at an all-time low.

The report also stated that there were 113 reportable injuries in over 50 million man hours worked offshore – the second lowest number of reportable injuries since the mid-1990s when the safety regulations came into force. The most common type of injury were strains and sprains. Also, the three-year average non-fatal injury rate is less than half of construction and transport sectors.

Another highlight in the report stated that nine operators had no reportable injuries in 2016. Finally, safety critical maintenance backlog continues to reduce, the report said.

The trade body emphasized that the fatality in 2016, which occurred during the unpacking of a container offshore, underlined how this major hazard industry can never let up on its drive to achieve the highest levels of safety performance.

Mick Borwell, Health, Safety and Environment Policy Director with Oil & 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.

“Prevention of releases remains an absolute priority.”

“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 recognize 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.”

The full report is available for download here:

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