20th July, 2015
Safety of Oil industry
Due to the economic downturn the oil industry is facing one of the most challenging periods in its long history.
Many of my constituents who work in the sector and who have come to me with their concerns will testify to this.
The price of oil has plummeted. Jobs have been cut. The infrastructure of the rigs is ageing. And oil is becoming more difficult to extract.
It’s during times like this when we have to be particularly vigilant that health and safety standards are not compromised.
With the 30th Anniversary of Piper Alpha disaster just passed, nobody needs to be reminded of how disastrous this can be. 167 people lost their lives on that fateful day, including 5 from Inverclyde.
I relayed these concerns to the Government Minister, Fergus Ewing, when I questioned him in Parliament earlier this year.
In the last week, I also received a letter from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following my meeting with them in Glasgow.
I was pleased to hear that throughout the economic downturn they have made it clear to the oil industry that there should be no relaxation in health and safety.
It has stated that operators must be able to demonstrate that they have the necessary inspection and audit personnel to ensure that critical maintenance backlog on the rigs is being actively managed.
It hasalso emphasised that shift patterns must be properly managed to prevent staff fatigue and avoid errors or accidents occurring.
To reinforce their message the watchdog plans to inspect over 150 offshore installations in this work year aloneandhas made it clear that they will take enforcement action if standards are not met.
Falling oil prices should not result in a fall in health and safety standards.