Page last updated at 07:23 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 08:23 UK

Offshore safety figures defended

Sea rescue boat
The Super Puma crash resulted in the loss of 16 lives.

The Health and Safety Executive has defended its claims that offshore safety is as good as it has ever been.

The body's annual report revealed fatal and serious injuries to workers were at their lowest level since the HSE began regulating the industry in 1991.

But it failed to record the fatal North sea helicopter crash in April which resulted in the deaths of 16 men.

The HSE, which does not record air and marine transport incidents, said there were no deaths during 2008-09.

The Super Puma helicopter tragedy, on 1 April, happened when the aircraft came down 14 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast.

The RMT union, which represents oil and gas industry workers, called for the HSE's reporting of offshore incidents to be changed, after saying the current system had created bad feeling among workers.

Hazards 'ever-present'

Meanwhile, the executive's review recorded 30 major injuries - 14 fewer than the previous year - while there was a small reduction in minor incidents.

The combined fatal and major injury rate fell to 106 per 100,000 workers over the period, compared with 156 the previous year.

There was also a reduction in the number of major gas releases, with 61 in 2008-09 compared to 74 in 2007-08.

The HSE's Judith Hackitt warned the industry must not take its eye off the ball despite the figures, and said investment in the safety of offshore workers must continue through the economic crisis.

She said: "Although we were pleased to see no fatalities occurring in offshore operations for a second consecutive year, this good news was, of course, overshadowed by the tragic events of 1 April when the Super Puma helicopter crashed with the loss of 16 passengers.

"The same day, in a separate incident, a worker received fatal injuries aboard a dive support vessel in transit.

"Even though HSE's remit does not extend to air and marine transport activities, these incidents show that hazards are ever present offshore. The loss of 17 offshore workers this year is a tragedy and stark reminder to us all."



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