By Claire West
Unite has reiterated its call for an emergency Scottish parliamentary debate into offshore health & safety as fresh reports emerged over the pressures placed by the industry on offshore workers to fly in Super Puma helicopters.
Reports this morning revealed that workers on the Borgsten Dolphin platform, the same rig where Friday’s crash victims departed from, were briefed by industry experts earlier this month and told that Super Puma helicopters were airworthy.
Workers had raised their fears over the safety of the Super Puma types and were reportedly told by a representative from oil giant TOTAL that ‘It makes no difference whether you are on an EC225, an L2 an S92 or any other helicopter. You’re taking the same risk. If you can’t live with that risk then you can’t work offshore’.
TOTAL's briefing contradicted guarantees given to Unite by industry bosses through the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) in the aftermath of the October 2012 Super Puma ditching that no worker would be forced to fly if they had any reservations about helicopter safety.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said, “This morning’s revelations about the safety briefing which took place on the Borgsten Dolphin platform on August 8th are disturbing and shows that guarantees given by the industry to protect workers rights after the October 2012 Super Puma ditching were useless.
“A culture of coercion and fear will not address the significant health & safety challenges facing UK offshore oil & gas. Such a bullish response to workers justified fears over the safety of the Super Pumas was contemptible and it reads even worse following Friday’s catastrophic events.
“And if this is a snapshot into the mindset of the industry towards its workers health, safety and wider employment concerns then I fear we are only scratching the surface of a bigger problem.
“This merely strengthens Unite’s call for an emergency parliamentary debate into offshore health & safety so we can begin to prioritise the interests of human beings - the industry’s most important resource - over the rush for profits.”