No improvement in offshore industry's safety record

On average there is more than one 'major and significant' oil or gas leak every other day on Britain's oil rigs and gas platforms.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there has been no improvement in the number of hydrocarbon releases in the past year, with over 200 reported in the last year.

As well as posing an environmental threat, these releases are often the precursor to a major accident.

Chair of the HSE Judith Hackittsaid : "The statistics underline that we are far from being in a position where we can feel comfortable. Although there are instances where improvements have been sustained, the control of potential major incident risks seems to have taken a back seat.

"We continue to be concerned at the failure to reduce the number of hydrocarbon releases, together with an increase in the number of major injuries. This suggests that basic safety systems are not being followed." Ms Hackitt added that HSE is carrying out a major review of the industry.

"Twenty years on from Piper Alpha, we must learn key lessons to ensure that failures of basic systems do not lead to major incidents. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell, has asked us to conduct a thorough review of the industry.

"With the demand for oil and gas so high and with assets being worked beyond their original intended life span, it is more important than ever that the offshore industry continues to invest in the sector to protect its workers and puts safety first."

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