UK gas and oil industry falls short of acceptable workplace safety record

September 1, 2012

Industries that are working over water and not on land have been told that their safety record is failing, after the publication of accident statistics recently.

The British offshore gas and oil industry has been slapped over the wrists about its safety standards, as recently released statistics reveal both rises in major injuries and uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that between 2009 and 2010 there were 50 serious workplace injuries, which was up by 20 on the previous year, and significantly greater than the average of 42 over the five years before that.

The combined major and fatal injury rate which affected the offshore industry increased dramatically to 192 per 100,000 workers in the year 2009 to 2010, compared to the 2007 /2008 period, which had a total of 156. In 2006 to 2007 it was only 61. This was the year when such injuries hit the lowest level since HSE began checking on the industry. It appears that injury prevention is not being prioritised at all.

A significant increase was also recorded in the last 12 months in relation to the number of major hydrocarbon releases, which is now also showing a worrying trend.

Steve Walker, the head of the HSE offshore division, pointed out that despite low numbers of injuries and dangerous incidences in a workforce of 27,000+, fatalities and major injuries have just about doubled.

He also reminded the oil and gas industry that their health and safety record has been a lot better in the past, so he knows there is room for improvement.

Hydrocarbon releases are also a major concern, as this could mean a major explosion could occur when one of these releases is underway.

The biggest concern is that some of the infrastructure being used offshore is now quite old and, if it is not updated, further accidents may be inevitable in the future.

The HSE is monitoring the situation carefully and does not treat lightly any risks to offshore workers.