Among the incidents in 2011 was a blast warning at Claymore, a sister platform of Piper Alpha
LAWYERS for the families of the Piper Alpha disaster victims have claimed oil firms are not doing enough to prevent a similar tragedy striking again.
Thompsons Solicitors, Scotland’s biggest personal injury firm, hit out after a series of high-profile safety alerts in the North Sea over the past year.
Among the incidents in 2011 was a blast warning at Claymore, a sister platform of Piper Alpha, which had five serious leaks between May and June.
Thompsons senior partner Syd Smith, who acted for victims and families after the 1988 explosion killed 167 men, said: “Piper Alpha was a horrific event that could have been avoided. It must never be allowed to happen again.
“It is encouraging that the Health and Safety Executive is rooting out companies that fail to meet health and safety standards, but these reports clearly highlight the need for oil companies to take oil rig health and safety seriously. To get lasting improvements, we need to promote a safety culture and encourage workers to be extra eyes and ears in the workplace.
“Workers might feel reluctant to be whistleblowers, but highlighting health and safety breaches in this way saves lives.”
The HSE shut down Talisman’s Claymore platform in August over fears that not enough was being done to prevent an explosion.
The prohibition notice served on the firm said the leaks, between May and June, showed Talisman had not taken proper measures “to prevent fire and explosion”.
It accused Talisman of not having in place an effective combination of engineering, procedural and management controls to prevent accidental leaks of flammable substances.
Talisman has since said it is fully committed to the cross-industry initiative to reduce unintentional releases by 50 per cent by 2013.
All four of Shell’s Brent field platforms, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, stopped producing oil and gas in January after a piece of protective railing plunged into the ocean due to metal fatigue.
About 100 workers were evacuated from Bravo. It was the site of an accident that killed two workers in 2003, which an inquiry later ruled could have been avoided had Shell properly repaired a hole in a corroding pipeline.
In June, maintenance worker Lee Bertram was killed after a rope he was suspended from on Brent Charlie gave way.
Last year, the European Union announced plans to seize legislative control of the oil and gas industry. Energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said the likelihood of a major accident remained “unacceptably high” after BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.
Under draft plan Industry bodInformation on spills would be available to the public and laws would be tightened to ensure firms were up to the job.s revealed in October, the EU would set the safety rules and make companies prepare detailed reports on how they would tackle emergencies before they are allowed to drill.
Offshore accident or incident was acceptable. Health and safety director Robert Paterson said the industry was always striving for improvements to safety, but needed “effective workforce engagement. He added: “Offshore safety has been positively transformed since Piper Alpha and, in terms of non-fatal accidents, the offshore oil and gas industry has a better safety record than the public sector, retail sector and general manufacturing industry.”
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