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July 1, 2008

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Government calls on offshore industry to address ongoing safety concerns

In the week of the 20th anniversary of the world’s worst offshore disaster, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell, has warned that Piper Alpha must never be allowed to happen again.

Acknowledging that things have improved since the 1988 North-Sea oil-platform explosion, in which 167 workers lost their lives, Mr Purnell emphasised that more remains to be done. He called on the Health and Safety Executive to review progress made by the offshore industry in tackling issues identified in its ‘KP3’ report on offshore oil and gas installations published last year (To read more about this, click here.)

The report followed a three-year programme of interventions by the HSE on nearly 100 offshore installations. Wide variations in performance were found across the industry. In particular, there was need for improvement in the key areas of top level industry leadership where the major accident hazard risks did not appear to be well understood, improved management of installation and asset integrity, and greater value being placed on the role the workforce at all levels can play in improving health and safety, and reducing the risks of major accidents.

Mr Purnell said: “Much work has been done since the terrible events at Piper Alpha in 1988, and the HSE has worked closely with the offshore industry to ensure that changes were made to make people’s lives safer. But we must not become complacent. We have to ensure this work continues, which is why I have asked the HSE to carry out a review of progress on the industry’s response to the issues identified by the ‘KP3’ Report.

“This will include a look at what improvements have been made to create a stronger safety culture, in which, of course, the involvement of the workforce is key.”

These and other issues will be debated here on this site at SHP’s live online webinar on Piper Alpha at 3pm this Friday, 4 July. To find out more, and to register for this FREE event, click here.

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