Memorandum submitted by the RMT
To what extent is the existing UK safety and environmental
regulatory regime fit for purpose?
Offshore Safety Representatives, the need for greater
The RMT represent 4,000 workers in the offshore sector.
The powers of offshore safety regulations are set
out in the Law. The "Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives
and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989" (SI 971) have existed
for over 20 years. During this time there have been only minor
changes to the regulations.
We believe ample evidence exists today to support
a complete revision of these regulations and specifically with
regards to enhancing the powers of elected Safety Representatives.
Ever since the SI 971 regulations came into being
there has been ongoing debate about improving "workforce
involvement" to improve the industry's safety performance.
Countless studies and reports have been produced by various groups
down the years about the levels of "involvement" and
how this might be improved. Today the topic features prominently
in the industry driven "Step Change in Safety" forum
and the tri-partite group "Offshore Industry Advisory Committee"
(OIAC) which includes representatives from HSE, industry and trade
Over the last few years the issue of "workforce
involvement" has had greater emphasis as a number of HSE
reports have been produced. In 2007 the HSE produced their "Key
Programme 3" (KP3) report, which was a three-year inspection
initiative looking at "asset integrity".
The HSE findings raised significant concerns regarding
the maintenance of safety-critical systems in the industry. In
July 2008 after a parliamentary debate, the Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions commissioned the HSE to conduct a review
of the industries progress on asset integrity.
In July 2009 the HSE published their findings, "KP3
- Asset Integrity; A review of industry's progress".
A significant section of this report placed great emphasis on
the need for greater workforce involvement;
To this end the HSE commenced an inspection programme
looking specifically at industry compliance with SI 971 and how
effective the regulations are. Surprisingly, there had never
been such an inspection previously in the 20 years of HSE being
Since KP3 and the subsequent KP3 review, the HSE
has launched a new project, "Ageing & Life Extension
Inspection Programme" or KP4. As the title suggests, this
project will look at the effect of installation ageing and how
this is managed to ensure installation integrity and safety critical
systems are maintained.
Given the obvious HSE concerns about ageing assets, added to the
ongoing concerns about asset integrity, we believe that Safety
Reps have a fundamental and vital role to play in ensuring that
asset integrity issues are properly managed.
If evidence were needed to support the concerns of
HSE, we need only consider the fact that Hydrocarbon releases
have increased this last reporting year, with major and significant
releases up to 85 from 61 the previous year. Additionally, major
injuries have also increased during the last reporting year, up
to 50 from 30 the previous year.
And still fresh in the minds of all are the horrifying pictures
of Deepwater Horizon, the deaths of 11 men and the devastation
of the US coast in the immediate region.
The SI 971 inspection project report referred
to is scheduled to be completed by end November 2010. However,
provisional data indicates that almost 80% of installations inspected
would need to improve their application of SI 971. (The final
report should be available very shortly.
In addition to this inspection programme there has
been several "workforce involvement" events organised
by a sub-committee of OIAC, the Workforce Involvement Group (WIG),
where workers from across the industry have come together to discuss
how workforce involvement could be improved. The main finding
from these events has been that Safety Reps require further extensive
training in order to become effective and therefore fully "involved".
There is one further event scheduled for 30th November.
The WIG sub-committee also commissioned a survey
of workers during early 2009 asking questions to try and gauge
the levels of "involvement" (see KP3 review). This survey
found that around 85% of workers felt they were "involved"
in safety, however, less than 30% had ever had any involvement
and/or consultation in their respective installation Safety Case.
It is the Installation Safety Case which determines how the integrity
and safety critical systems of an installation are managed. These
are the areas which HSE are most concerned about. It therefore
follows that where greater workforce involvement in the Safety
Case can be achieved, there will be greater scrutiny by the workforce
of the areas of concern - platform integrity, safety critical
systems and ageing infrastructure. To achieve this, Safety Reps
will require further training.
To support the opinion on the need for more training
of Safety Reps, the training providers currently running the existing
"five-day basic safety rep course" have been consulted
and they all report that delegates indicate their desire for more
extensive training. After the 30 November WIG event, the group
will file a report to OIAC collating all of the information gathered
from the HSE inspection report, feedback from the WIG events,
and information from the training providers. The WIG group will
thereafter be calling on OIAC to make a recommendation to industry
that more specialised training for elected Safety Reps should
be provided. However, this will only be a "recommendation".
We believe that we need more than a recommendation.
We want to see more specialised training become a statutory entitlement,
by having it written into the SI971 Regulations and specifically
training in: ¾ Principles
of Risk Assessment.
Cause Analysis - accident/incident investigation.
of Safety auditing/Inspection skills.
skills - Presentation; Negotiation; Interpersonal; Meeting Organisation.
Currently under SI 971 there is only a requirement
to provide a five-day basic safety rep course, with a clause (Reg
27) suggesting that any other training considered "reasonable"
should be provided. This differs significantly from onshore, albeit
more extensive training tends to be incorporated into industries
where meaningful trade union recognition exists. Unfortunately,
due to the nature of the existing offshore recognition arrangements
(sweetheart deals with Unite) this route to securing more training
is virtually a non-starter.
So, Safety Reps should have the statutory power to
insist on more training and we want this incorporated into SI
971. We also believe that once properly trained they should use
the existing powers of SI 971 to conduct regular inspections.
We believe an additional power should be incorporated into those
powers of inspection in the form of the right to issue
"Provisional Improvement Notices" (PIN). A Safety
Committee or individual Safety Rep should have this statutory
power, as we believe this would be a significant deterrent to
bad practice and especially when dealing with installation integrity
and safety critical issues. The respective installation manager
served a PIN should be required to forward the PIN to the next
senior onshore manager and the relevant HSE Inspector. It is also
important to note that in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident
in the Gulf of Mexico the EU Commissioners are calling for an
EU wide standard on health and safety practice, or in industry
speak - adoption of best practice in Europe. In line with EU Commissioners
calls, we want to see the adoption of the Norwegian standards
applicable to safety reps including greater worker involvement,
training and also enforcement powers.