Thirty years on from the worst oil disaster in history, the offshore industry is in danger of repeating mistakes that saw 167 workers killed in the Piper Alpha explosion, the RMT has warned.
165 offshore workers and two seafarers died when the Piper Alpha platform, 120 miles north east of Aberdeen in the North Sea, was set ablaze on the night of 6 July 1988.
Issuing a statement to coincide with national commemorations taking place on 6 July this year, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers general secretary Mick Cash, said: “Respecting the memory of the Piper Alpha victims should mean adopting the highest possible standards that put safety before profit.
“Regrettably, however, the business model that has developed in the North Sea especially since the 2014 downturn is putting unwelcome pressure on our members.”
He said that a combination of overly long shifts, a crisis of confidence in the safety of helicopter transport and ineffective regulations were the main issues at stake.
“Employers, government, regulators must do more for the safety of offshore workers. The consequences of complacency are unthinkable,” he added.
A total of 160,000 jobs have been lost in the North Sea oil and gas industry since 2014 when the oil price began its downward spiral from $100 to $30 a barrel by 2016.
RMT says remaining staff have seen increased shift patterns imposed, pay cuts and erosion of employment rights, since the crash.
The 30th anniversary day also saw MPs sign an early day motion for Piper Alpha to highlight ongoing issues in offshore safety.
The motion called for better enforcement of regulation, noting the ‘ongoing delay’ in publication of the updated workforce engagement guide for HSE inspectors offshore. It also called on the government to ‘better regulate the offshore business environment in the interests of safer working on installations and in the supply chain.’
Read Piper Alpha, 25 years on a Safety Management dossier: www.britsafe.org/smm/piper-alpha-25-years-anniversary-supplement/
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