Offshore workers not confident of helicopter safety

Unite has told the UK Transport Select Committee that a majority of offshore workers lack confidence in the safety of helicopter transfers to and from installations in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), intensifying calls for the industry to make urgent reforms.

A large number of islanders work offshore and travel regularly on helicopters to the rigs.

Unite surveyed over 1,100 offshore workers as part of the ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign and over 53 per cent of workers said they were not confident in offshore helicopter safety, particularly with the Eurocopter Super Puma fleet.

77 per cent also stated their confidence in helicopter safety had decreased in the last twelve months after three ditches during 2012/13, including August’s fatal crash where four workers lost their lives in the waters off the South Shetland coast.

These findings follow the delivery of a petition to Oil & Gas UK last Friday signed by over 3,000 offshore workers calling for improvements to offshore helicopter design, survival contingencies and training and to implement all previous recommendations made by authorities to maximise the safety of workers.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Tommy Campbell said, “The Back Home Safe survey results reinforce what the oil and gas industry already knows and needs to address: worker confidence in offshore helicopter safety has been shattered.

“The message that’s been sent to the UK Transport Select Committee as it conducts its inquiry into helicopter safety is that we need to urgently work together to reform safety standards and restore worker confidence in commercial helicopter transfers to and from oil and gas installations in the UKCS.

“Unite believes we can start this process swiftly by implementing the four key demands of the Back Home Safe campaign and it is clear we have a growing body of support among the offshore workforce to pursue this.

“The industry needs to evolve with its environment and with twenty fatalities in the last four years there should be a moral obligation to act on the concerns of its most important resource – its people.”