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Calls for public inquiry into offshore helicopter safe...

Calls for public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety set to intensify

12 April 2014

Unite, offshore safety campaigners and crash survivors will come together at the Scottish TUC Annual Conference this Monday (14 April), to intensify calls for a public inquiry into UK offshore helicopter safety and for Norwegian-style offshore safety reforms to help more workers get back home safe.

A special Unite fringe event will highlight the findings of its Back Home Safe campaign alongside contributions from Thompson’s Solicitors - who represented the families of the 2009 Miller crash fatalities at the recent Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) - offshore helicopter safety reform campaigner Richard Baker MSP and, crucially, Mr. Toby Croft who survived last August’s fatal Borgsten Dolphin crash.

Since 2002 the UK offshore oil and gas industry has suffered 38 fatalities involving offshore helicopter transfers while there have been zero fatalities as a result of helicopter transfers in the Norwegian offshore industry over the same period - the last such incident was in 1997, claiming 12 lives.

Unite believes this is an unacceptable failing of workplace health and safety on the part of the UK industry and its helicopter operators and cannot be allowed to continue.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “A public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety will be able to peel away the layers and help get to the root of the British problem and we can do this by following the example of our North Sea neighbours, Norway.

“Fifteen years ago the Norwegian’s conducted a series of public duties into offshore safety, implementing uniformed standards for helicopter transfers to offshore installations alongside robust workplace health and safety regulations which empowered workers and trade unions.

“Yet there is a crisis in confidence over offshore helicopter safety and it has to be addressed by the industry and governance in conjunction with their offshore trade unions - that’s the views of over 3,500 workers who responded to our Back Home Safe survey and petition.

“If our politicians and the UK offshore industry are serious about tackling this festering sore in our most profitable industry then they must agree that a full public inquiry is the only way which we can forensically analyse the problem and begin to remedy it.

“It’s far too late for the victims and families but we must do everything we can to learn from these tragedies and limit the possibility of more devastating workplace fatalities from happening in the future.”

ENDS

Unite’s Fringe Event, ‘Back Home Safe Beyond - the future of offshore safety’, will take place on Monday 14 April, 12:30 at the STUC Annual Conference, Dundee Caird Hall.

The fringe event can also be viewed here.

Follow the Back Home Safe campaign on twitter @BackHomeSafe #backhomesafe

For further information please contact Peter welsh on 07810157931 or Alex Flynn on 07967665869.

Twitter: @unitetheunion, Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes for editors

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