The paper identifies the major influences on the way workers respond to health and safety in the workplace. the special nature of the oil and gas production industry demonstrate the importance to Health and safety of the health, particularly mental health, of the workforce.

High stress levels caused by the culture of the industry, demands of shareholders, working conditions and locations have potential for significant human intervention. Long and unusual working hours and shifts have debilitating effects. Contractorisation, short term contracts and competitive tendering all contribute to the human cost of the industry. The human resource has a limited capacity and needs preventative maintenance if it is to function efficiently. In recent major incidents, due to "Human Error", the technical fix was unable to prevent the initiating or subsequent events.

Promoting safety without promoting good and equitable conditions of employment, will fail. Motivation in the absence of a positive employee view of the employer is pointless. Working with the workforce with their trade unions can provide that positive view.

The author is responsible for health and safety issues covering the 420,000 members of the skilled and professional union MSF in the UK and Ireland. Prior to this he was responsible for organising offshore workers in the UK.

Let all who build beware

The load, the shock, the pressure

Material can bear.

So, when the buckled girder

lets down the grinding span,

The blame of loss, or murder,

Is laid upon the man.

Not on the stuff – the Man.

  • Rudyard Kipling

    Hymn of Breaking Strain


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