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HSE responds to The Telegraph article - "Fresh North Sea oil fears for safety of offshore workers"

6 May 2011

Dear Editor,

Your assertion that oil and gas workers in the British sector of the North Sea are more at risk of death and serious injury (Fresh North Sea oil fears for safety of offshore workers, ST Business, p2) is simply not supported by the facts.

Your own article asserts that based on comparable numbers of hours worked there have been more hydrocarbon leaks in the Norwegian sector than the GB sector of the North Sea.

Tragically, there are fatal and serious injury incidents in both British and Norwegian waters. But just comparing numbers of such incidents is misleading. The fact is that there is no significant difference in the rate of fatal and serious injury incidents in the two sectors - 0.86 and 0.85 injuries per million hours worked on the UK Continental Shelf and Norwegian waters, respectively.

The bigger issue is that in both Norway and UK there have been significant and sustained improvements in the safety record over recent years.

But there is no room for complacency in the high hazard industries. Oil companies, regulators and all those connected with the industry must learn lessons from the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico. While Parliament's Energy and Climate Change Select Committee's recent report concluded that the UK safety regime is superior to that governing the Deepwater Horizon, there is always work for the industry and regulators to do to ensure standards are maintained and when appropriate continually improved.

We remain vigilant and determined to ensure that the oil companies operating in UK waters are managing their risks effectively.

Yours faithfully,

Kevin Myers
Deputy Chief Executive
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2013-01-10