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August 28, 2013

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Unions call for urgent political response to helicopter crash

helicopter crashA union rally has been held to campaign for improved health and safety offshore following the helicopter crash in Scotland last week (23 August) that killed four oil workers.

The helicopter, a Super Puma model, is frequently used to fly workers to and from oil rigs in the North Sea. It is the fifth time in four years that a Super Puma type helicopter has crashed in the North Sea.
Following the crash, Unite the Union urged the Scottish Government to fast-track Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) reforms put before the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, and for an emergency Scottish parliamentary debate into offshore health and safety. 
Unite Scottish decretary Pat Rafferty said: “Friday’s horrific events should now compel the Scottish Government to ensure the safe passage through parliament of Patricia Ferguson’s FAI reforms.
“Unite is also clear that we need an urgent debate into the future of offshore health and safety.”
It emerged yesterday (27 August) that workers on the Borgsten Dolphin platform — the rig from which the crashed helicopter departed — were briefed by industry experts earlier in the month and assured that Super Puma helicopters were airworthy, after workers had reportedly raised fears over their safety.
Added Rafferty: “A culture of coercion and fear will not address the significant health and safety challenges facing UK offshore oil and gas. Such a bullish response to workers justified fears over the safety of the Super Pumas was contemptible and it reads even worse following Friday’s catastrophic events.”
The RMT union yesterday called off plans to hold a protest at the Aberdeen base of Super Puma operator CHC after an agreement was reached in talks with industry body Oil & Gas UK on union access to offshore installations.
In place of the protest, a rally was held today (28 August) in Aberdeen to press for improved safety in the offshore oil and gas industry. 
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Following talks with the employers we have secured a massive breakthrough on our core demand of workplace access, which will enable us to build an organisation that can fight for real collective improvements to offshore working conditions, including on the central issue of safety.”
Following the meeting with the RMT union, Oil & Gas UK said in a statement yesterday that both parties expressed their support for the existing memorandum of understanding regarding trade-union access to offshore installations through the Inter Union Offshore Oil Committee (IUOOC) procedure, which allows trade-union officials to visit the offshore workforce. 
Oil & Gas UK held a meeting in Aberdeen on 26 August with 80 representatives of oil and gas operators and major contractors to discuss the operational impact of the temporary suspension of Super Puma helicopters following the crash.

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john cullen
john cullen
10 years ago

safety is paramount to all workers in the offshore industry.

how many times is it going to happen again helicopters ditching, no matter how many safety courses you go through it is every man for themselves when they are in a panic situation, start to use ships and do a completer crew change in one swoop instead of daily use of Choppers

10 years ago

There appears to be a fundamental problem with the design and/or maintenance regimes of Super Pumas and this must be resolved before they even considered for a return to service. Boats are NOT the answer as basket transfers are even more dangerous and significantly less reliable.