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October 9, 2008

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Offshore industry addresses competence concerns

The new standards cover nine basic safety elements, including the core topics of risk assessment and permit to work, and also introducing new key safety awareness centred on mechanical lifting and platform integrity.

John Methven, co-chair of Step Change in Safety, said: “Currently, basic safety training is carried out to different depths of understanding and covers varying safety elements. Every worker on the UKCS is required to complete basic offshore survival training; however, this does not include training on risk assessment, process safety, or platform integrity. These elements are normally covered through additional in-house training, but the core content can vary from company to company.

“By undertaking the new additional elements of basic safety training through a registered training centre, every employee working on an installation on the UKCS will have the same starting level of safety understanding and awareness.”

Alan Chesterman, leader of the Step Change in Safety competence work group, which drew up the standards, added: “We didn’t reinvent the wheel – 90 per cent of the content is not new, and people will recognise it. But although the basics are essentially the same, right now there’s a lack of consistency. We recognise that adopting common standards and engaging the essential support to apply them uniformly across industry is a challenge, but there is a real prize out there.”

The standards will be rolled out in two phases: the first phase will especially target new starts in the offshore industry and will include training in all nine modules. This training will be available from the end of 2008. The second phase will see the introduction of a newly developed, computer-based system for experienced offshore workers, which will identify and fill gaps in training and will be subject to a refresher every four years. The new system will be available early 2009.

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