UK report slams oilrigs’ safety record

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The offshore oil and gas industry has been warned about its safety record as new statistics show increases in major injuries and unplanned hydrocarbon releases.

The report comes on the back of similar findings from the United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has accused American oilrig owner Transocean of "bullying, harassment and intimidation" of its staff ahead of the company's appearance before a UK House of Commons investigation.

Figures released by the HSE show that there were 50 major injuries reported in 2009/10 − up 20 on 2008/09 and higher than the average of 42 over the previous five years. No workers were killed during activities regulated by HSE for the third year running.

"This year's overall health and safety picture is simply not good enough. The industry has shown it can do better and it must do in future,' said Steve Walker, head of HSE's offshore division.

"I am particularly disappointed, and concerned, that major and significant hydrocarbon releases are up by more than a third on last year."

The combined fatal and major injury rate almost doubled to 192 per 100,000 workers in 2009/10 compared with 106 in 2008/09 and 156 in 2007/08.

A marked rise was also recorded in 2009/10 of the combined number of major and significant hydrocarbon releases, regarded as potential precursors to a major incident, with a provisional total of 85. There were 61 in 2008/09 − the lowest since HSE began regulating the industry.

In 2009/10 there was a significant reduction in the minor over-three-day injury rate, maintaining a downward trend – 414 workers per 100,000 reported an injury, compared with 496 in the previous year.

443 dangerous occurrences were reported, 34 fewer than in 2008/09. The main types reported were hydrocarbon releases (42 percent), failure of equipment offshore (23 percent) well-related incidents (six percent) and failures relating to lifting operations (nine percent).

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