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September 25, 2011

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HSE encouraged by offshore safety-rep findings

The majority of duty-holders on UK offshore installations are complying with regulations relating to the involvement of safety reps in health and safety matters, according to the findings of an HSE inspection project.

The HSE’s offshore safety division undertook a programme of inspections to check how well the industry was complying with the Offshore Installations (Safety representatives and Safety committees) Regulations 1989. Some 41 inspections, covering 25 different duty-holders, were completed last year over a six-month period.

A total of 18 inspections resulted in formal letters being sent where partial compliance was evident and actions were required to bring about improvements. Satisfactory evidence of compliance was observed on 23 of the installations, with only verbal advice being given on 16 of these sites.

In particular, the HSE found numerous examples of good practice in the area of safety committees, with general compliance noted in 35 of the 41 installations inspected. Some platforms reviewed other installations’ safety-committee meeting minutes during their own meetings, or posted them on notice boards to aid cross-platform learning.

On the training requirements laid down in the Regulations, compliance was noted as “reasonable”, but a number of safety reps were identified as not having received basic training to fulfil their duties.

Looking at the duties that the Regulations impose on installation operators, owners and employers, inspectors found that the majority were meeting their basic duties, but verbal advice on improvements in this area was given in 15 instances. The report also highlights that duty-holders need to improve consultation arrangements; in 13 instances, safety reps felt they were informed rather than consulted, and in 10 other cases the safety reps commented that, while they were consulted, the process could be improved.

Concluded the report: “An area where duty-holders often failed to involve safety reps was in consultation. Duty-holders should review their own practice on consultation to make sure they maximise the opportunities for safety-rep involvement in decisions that affect health and safety.”

On this area, OILC – the offshore energy branch of the RMT union was scathing. RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said: “What this report shows is the industry is fundamentally failing to involve workers in health and safety matters, as the most basic element in that process – consultation – is not occurring. It’s clear the duty-holders are either reluctant, or unwilling to properly consult – after all, they’ve had 22 years to get in the way of it!

“It’s therefore time the safety reps were adequately equipped to fully engage with duty-holders and compel them to consult with the workforce. To do this, the scope of training for safety reps must be improved.”

However, the oil and gas industry’s safety initiative, Step Change in Safety, welcomed the findings. The scheme’s safety manager, Dave Nicholls, said: “Step Change is committed to both developing the competency of safety representatives and ensuring they are championed at board, or senior-management level. Indeed, Step Change has recently brought workforce safety representatives into its leadership team, which is responsible for decision-making.
“The HSE report has highlighted an extensive list of good practices in engaging workers in safety. Step Change will now share this throughout the industry, in order to raise standards further across the board.”

Nicholls added that Step Change is in the process of developing a workforce engagement survey tool, which he believes could become “a vital ‘leading’ indicator of workforce engagement for our industry”.

Head of the HSE’s offshore safety division Steve Walker said: “The results of the programme were encouraging, with the project having a positive effect within the UK offshore industry, heightening the focus on the role of elected safety representatives and committees. The majority of inspections confirmed general compliance with the regulations and the project was successful in identifying and gaining improvements in a number of areas.”

The report is at

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12 years ago

The survey identifies that consultation with Safety Reps needs to be improved and finds that too many Safety Reps have not had basic training. Given that effective implementation of both Safety Reps training and consultation rights are key to effective worker involvement, the survey highlights the huge amount of work still to be done. A major influence in worker involvement is management support and the survey indicates too many managers have a very limited view of what the SR role is.

12 years ago

This is not a reflection of fact, just contrived figures to show a picture of workforce involvement offshore, offshore reps are not wholly representative of the offshore workforce. So Alan seek improvements in your sector but please don’t benchmark it on Offshore HSE findings

12 years ago


Is there any provisions in place to implement this into the wind turbine industry, as we know the oil & gas industry has been operating for many years and have alot things in place already, as a safety rep in the wind turbine industry i believe that some sort of extra guidance would benefit all safety reps out here.