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MPs urged to help rebuild confidence in offshore helic...

MPs urged to help rebuild confidence in offshore helicopter safety

27 January 2014

Unite will tell the UK Transport Committee today (Monday 27th January) that offshore workers want reforms to helicopter safety in order to rebuild the confidence lost after five major incidents in four years, resulting in twenty fatalities.

Over 50% of offshore workers who participated in Unite’s Back Home Safe consultation said they were not confident in the safety of offshore commercial helicopter transfers to installations in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), with 77% stating that confidence declined over the last year.

The Transport Committee’s inquiry into helicopter safety will take evidence from offshore trade unions and industry bodies in Aberdeen over the next two days and Unite believes that helicopter operators and the industry should listen to the increasing number of workers supporting the demands of its Back Home Safe campaign.

Unite regional industrial officer John Taylor, who will be giving evidence to the committee, commented: “Helicopter transfers are the only efficient means of transferring workers to and from offshore installations but the industry and the operators have a moral obligation to make these transfers as safe as possible in order to get its people back home safe.

“The workers have sent a clear message to the industry that there is a confidence issue and it needs to be addressed. This isn’t scaremongering, it’s a reality that must be faced-up to after five incidents and twenty fatalities attributed to offshore helicopter transfers since 2009.

“We believe our modest proposals for changes to helicopter seating configuration, improved on-board lighting, survival training and personal safety equipment present an opportunity address this problem, not as a panacea but as a means of better protecting lives should a major incident occur and we hope MPs on the committee support this.”

ENDS

For further information and for copies of Unite’s written response to the UK Transport Committee’s initial call for evidence on helicopter safety, also containing the Back Home Safe survey report, please contact Unite regional industrial officer Tommy Campbell on 07810157920 or Peter Welsh on 07810157931.

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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.

Notes to Editors:

The demands of the Unite Back Home Safe campaign are:

  • Safer emergency lighting and seating configuration in all offshore helicopters to aid evacuation
  • Immediate implementation of all safety recommendations from past offshore helicopter incidents
  • Independent review to improve contingencies in the event of a ditching (to maximise the survival time for workers) and
  • Improved survival equipment and training for workers

Unite has received over 3,500 signatories supporting their Back Home Safe Petition which has been delivered to industry body Oil & Gas UK.

Unite regional industrial officer John Taylor will submit evidence to the Transport Committee on Monday 27th January, 3pm at the University of Aberdeen’s Linklater Rooms and will be available for interview following the evidence session.

For further information and for copies of Unite’s written response to the UK Transport Committee’s initial call for evidence on helicopter safety, also containing the Back Home Safe survey report, please contact Unite regional industrial officer Tommy Campbell on 07810 157920 or Peter Welsh on 07810 157931.