It is a pleasure and an honour to be invited to talk to you today about the British Government's approach to improving offshore safety
Before I get onto the main subject of my talk I willsay â??a word about the organization I represent The organization I work for, the Health and. Safety Executive or HSE for short, is responsible In Britain for regulating industrial health and safety in all industries, ranging from nuclear power stations, to factories, refineries, farms, offshore installations, educational and research establishments, and other industries. Offshore safety responsibilities were transferred to HSE from the Department of Energy in 1991.
In Britain there are, in fact, two statutory bodies The Health and Safety Commission is our governing body, and consists of representatives of employers, employees, local authorities and the public interest. Responsibility for developing policies and laws on health and safety have been devolved by Ministers to this independent Commission.
HSE provides support for the Commission, and is the statutory enforcement body. We provide policy advice, have general" and specialist inspectorates, and extensive technical expertise. The Commission and HSE were set up in 1974 under the Health and Safety of Work etc Act, which set a general framework for the regulation of all sectors. Our general approach has been based on several important principles, including the following.
First, self-regulation. Legislation emphasizes the responsibilities of those who create risks particularly employers, to control them. Linked to this is the idea that regulations should set Safety goals, and not prescribe solutions. Also important is the constructive involvement o representatives of the workforce in developing and applying safety measures: at national and at Workplace, level second' â??proportionality That is, we require safety standards to be reasonably practicable. controls should be commensurate with the risk nd the greater the risk, the greater the expenditure it will be reasonable to require to ensure control is adequate.
The third principle has been developed over the years since the 1974 Act was made: the need for ystematic approaches as a means to achieve and maintain adequate safety standards.
The UK has taken the lead within Europe in the development of legislation for both onshore and offshore hazardous plant. What is less a matter for pride however is that in each case, the immediate stimulus was a serious accident
167 men died in the explosion and fire onJuly 1988 on the Piper Alpha fixed production platform in the North Sea. This was the biggest death toll in an industrial accident in Britain for over 50 years, and the largest ever apart frommajor underground mining catastrophes
The immediate cause was the ignition of a leakage of gas condensate, resulting from the pressurisation of pipe work which was undergoing maintenance. This first explosion led quickly to a large crude oil fire.