Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 14:17 UK

Offshore safety concerns raised

Offshore platform
Steve Walker said he wanted to drive up industry standards

Gas leaks and major accidents offshore have increased in recent months, the Health and Safety Executive has warned.

There were 21 significant hydrocarbon releases on North Sea installations and 14 major accidents during April, May and June.

This compared to 61 and 30 respectively for the whole of last year.

The HSE's new head of offshore safety, Steve Walker, warned a top priority was oil and gas companies not becoming complacent.

Mr Walker said he was glad to see "good progress" and urged the industry not to take its eye off the ball.

HSE's Steve Walker
Though progress is being made, the work is far from complete
Steve Walker
HSE head of offshore safety

He said: "I recognise the challenges. Industry must pay attention to every detail, no matter how small, if it potentially puts safety at risk.

"I inherit an excellent legacy. I intend to continue to drive up standards in the industry and ensure that there is no room for complacency.

"I need to see industry putting its money where its mouth is in terms of improving asset integrity."

The new offshore head added: "Though progress is being made, the work is far from complete."

Oil and Gas UK, which represents offshore companies, said it would never be complacent over the safety of the workforce.

Mr Walker is replacing Ian Whewell on his retirement.

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