Parliament doesn’t need to wait on offshore safety reform

Parliament doesn’t need to wait on offshore safety reform

04 September 2013

Unite says the Scottish government doesn’t have to wait on the final report of the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) into the latest fatal helicopter crash to begin the process of reforming offshore health and safety.

This follows a statement before the Scottish parliament this afternoon by finance & employment secretary John Swinney MSP into the events surrounding the tragic ditching of a Super Puma AS332 L2 type off the Shetland coast on Friday 23rd August, resulting in the deaths of four people returning from the Borgsten Dolphin platform.

However, with workforce confidence in the Super Puma fleet totally shattered after the fifth ditching since 2009, Unite believes that some basic questions into the conditions facing workers on these helicopter transfers do not need to wait on the final AAIB findings.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said, “The Scottish government statement placed great emphasis on waiting for the AAIB’s findings before considering next steps but this doesn’t need to be the case – the first steps towards safer offshore helicopters can start now.  

“It’s not just a question of whether the Super Puma fleet is airworthy; it’s also a question of whether they are fit for the purpose of commercial transfer and some fundamental questions relating to the tragic events of 23rd August don’t need to wait on answers from the final AAIB report.

“Unite will now be seeking clarity from the helicopter operators and safety authorities on the following issues:

- Does the seating configuration and capacity on offshore helicopters maximise the health and safety of workers in the event of a ditching?
- Does the survival training mirror the exact conditions of a full-capacity helicopter cabin?
- What contingencies could be in place in the event of a ditch that can buy workers more time in the worst case scenario? and
- Have there been any recommendations based on past incidents and did the industry act on them?  
“It can’t be a case of ‘boots on and back to work’ while we wait on finding from the AAIB. The Scottish government and our MSPs need to recognise that workers’ confidence hasn’t been undermined by this latest tragedy, it’s been shattered, and that’s why the process of safety reform needs to start now.”


Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland communications on 07810157931.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.