Workforce concerns about helicopter safety
1 This SPC advises inspectors on how to deal with workforce concerns about helicopter safety. It replaces SPC/Enforcement/131 which has been withdrawn.
2 Because we frequently come into contact with the workforce during our offshore inspections, any concerns they may have about helicopter safety are understandably directed at us in the expectation that the HSE is empowered to take the necessary enforcement action. However, most aspects of the safety of helicopter operations are outside HSE's remit, being the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as a regulator, with the investigation of accidents being the responsibility of the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB). For example, the airworthiness and operational safety of a helicopter and its passengers are regulated by the CAA, and not by HSE. However it is incumbent on us to be as helpful as we can, even when any issues raised are within the CAA's area of influence and not ours.
3 Information on how offshore helicopter travel is regulated, and the roles and responsibilities of the HSE, the CAA, and the AAIB, can be found in leaflet INDG219 (rev1). Inspectors are therefore advised to familiarise themselves with this leaflet and to provide Safety Representatives with copies whenever you are offshore. The leaflet can be freely downloaded from How offshore helicopter travel is regulated.
4 Should concerns be raised about helicopter safety, the information in INDG219 can be used to determine whether or not the issue falls within the HSE remit. If it does then we should respond as for any other complaint. However, if the issue falls outside the HSE remit (ie to the CAA), then the following action is recommended:
- Use the guidance in INDG219 to explain to the complainant that, although it falls outside HSE's remit, we would be happy to forward details to the CAA.
- Take details of the issue for forwarding to the CAA. Inspectors should send all such reports to OSD3.3, which will forward them to the CAA for consideration and response. OSD3.3 will copy the CAA response to the originating Inspector so that the outcome can be fed back to the complainant.
- Encourage the person to raise the issue with the installation owner/operator through the normal reporting channels. Suggest that they request the matter be taken up with the helicopter operator.
- Advise the person raising the issue that they are entitled to refer the matter directly to the CAA by writing to:
CAA Flight Operations Inspectorate (Helicopters)
Safety Regulation Group
Floor 1W, Aviation House
Gatwick Airport South
West Sussex RH6 OYR
Tel: 01293 573696
5 Further details of HSE policy on air transport safety and the relationship between HSE, the CAA, and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) can be found in:
6 Further advice and printed copies of INDG219 can be obtained from OSD3.3 01256 404157.