Offshore safety three decades on from Piper Alpha

Lessons learned from that tragedy have ensured that the health and safety regime in the North Sea is entirely different now.
Lessons learned from that tragedy have ensured that the health and safety regime in the North Sea is entirely different now.

It’s 30 years since the world looked on in horror as the terrible events of Piper Alpha unfolded.

Lessons learned from that tragedy have ensured that the health and safety regime in the North Sea is entirely different now.

How the legacy of Piper Alpha has shaped current offshore operations, and the ongoing effort to create an even safer future, is the focus of Safety 30 - a major conference organised by Oil & Gas UK in association with the International Regulators’ Forum.

With Step Change in Safety as principal sponsor, the June 5 and 6 event in Aberdeen will shine a spotlight on the industry’s people, plant and process looking at the past, present and future.

Lord Cullen - who chaired the public inquiry into Piper Alpha - will address the conference and discuss the need to continue to heed safety lessons and other insights, drawing on investigations into Piper Alpha and other major accidents.

The conference will consider safety issues against a range of different backdrops including increased efficiency, lower costs, new operators and technological advances. The need to transfer skills and experience from one generation to the next is also among topics up for debate.

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, said: “We must never forget the tragic loss of life that resulted from Piper Alpha. It represented a watershed moment for health and safety in our industry and led to the world-class safety regime we have today. However, we must never lose the momentum around safe operations and have to constantly, and relentlessly, strive to keep our sector as safe as it can be, and that’s the focus of our conference.”

Les Linklater, executive director, Step Change in Safety, said: “Step Change in Safety was borne off the back of industry’s desire to continue to improve post Piper Alpha and was established in 1997. While improving safety and effecting change via our members, we offer tools and guidance to support the frontline workforce. In 1990 Lord Cullen’s report emphasised the importance of workforce engagement and, in particular, the role of the Elected Safety Representative (ESR), and therefore we are pleased as principal sponsors, to be able to offer 100 free spaces for ESRs, working in the UKCS, who wish to attend this important and informative conference, which stems from such tragedy.”

Chris Flint, Director, Energy Division, Health and Safety Executive, added: “The Health and Safety Executive is pleased to be supporting this conference which brings together the UK oil and gas industry and the Global Offshore International Regulators’ Forum. It promises to be an engaging and informative event marking a hugely important milestone.”

The conference takes place at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.