Introduction

Research has played an important role in helping ensure safety in the offshore oil and gas industries and will continue to do so. It has always been a high priority in Offshore Safety Division (OSD) with the objective of keeping the Division aware of all developments with a potential bearing on the health and safety of the offshore workforce. Consequently, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is currently funding a major research programme aimed at increasing safety offshore by investigating a broad range of factors which govern the integrity of engineering design, technology, management and operations. Annual HSE expenditure on this endeavour is of the order of £6.5m but taking into account that about one third of the projects are funded jointly with the offshore industry the combined programme consisting of over 300 live projects has a value exceeding £50m. The large majority of the research is undertaken by external contractors based in the UK and abroad.

The main objectives of this offshore safety research programme are to:

  • assess the extent and nature of the risks involved in work offshore;

  • support specific enforcement activities, policy initiatives or accident investigations;

  • produce information to develop technical guidance to support legislation;

  • inform national and international standards making;

  • validate models (including computer models) enabling risk calculations to be made and inform regulatory decisions;

  • produce necessary health and safety information where the structure of the industry prevents it being produced by the industry (at least in an appropriate timescale).

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