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Safety warning issued to offshore oil and gas industry
The offshore oil and gas industry has been warned to improve safety after a year which saw an increase in major injuries to workers and other serious incidents.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report covering the 27,000 workers employed in the UK's North Sea oil and gas industry has revealed that there were fifty major injuries reported in 2009/10 - up by twenty from the previous year and higher than the average of forty-two over the previous five years. The HSE said that for the third year running, there were no workers killed in activities it regulated.
Karl Tonks, a health and safety specialist at Fentons Solicitors said: "Although it is great news that there have been no recorded offshore fatalities for the third consecutive year, the fact remains the number of serious injuries reported has risen. These figures remind us of the serious dangers workers continue to face on offshore installations in the North Sea."
HSE figures reveal incidents involving major and significant hydrocarbon gas releases - regarded as potential precursors to major accidents - stood at 85, up by more than a third from last years figure of 61.
The installations in operation in the UK sector of the North Sea are notoriously old. After forty years of oil and gas production, the issues regarding ageing installations have raised concerns over a number of years. The HSE is to continue its existing programme of inspections to ensure standards are maintained until September 2013.
"This year's overall health and safety picture is simply not good enough," said Karl, a partner with the firm. "As more and more offshore installations exceed their original design life, the industry needs to address the future and anticipate any inevitable consequences.
"Operators must do everything they can to guarantee employee safety is never compromised," said Karl.
"Substantial investment is needed to allay concerns over ageing installations. Efficient and well-maintained plant and equipment are crucial to ensure the long-term future of the UK's offshore oil and gas industry."
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