The Health & Safety Executive ("HSE") recently released the Annual Offshore Statistics & Regulatory Activity Report 2014/15 (the "Report").  The Report paints a mixed picture of health and safety in the offshore industry, although the headline figures do show positive signs of improvement.  All figures are marked as provisional but we do not expect the general trends to vary significantly.  

The Report contains: 

  1. Statistical information on dangerous offshore occurrences and offshore accidents reported to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 ("RIDDOR") from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015; and
  2. The HSE’s regulatory activity relating to the offshore industry during 2014/15.

RIDDOR statistics

Overall, injury rates (including fatalities) fell back under 450 per 100,000 workers.  The Report goes into detail on the following topics:

  • There was one fatality (resulting from a fall from height);
  • There were 16 “specified” injuries reportable under Regulation 4 of RIDDOR, which translates to a rate of 48 per 100,000 workers;
  • There were 125 over 7-day injuries, compared to 112 in 2013/14, however the Report suggests that a small increase in one year should not be taken as an indication of a general increase in this type of incident;
  • There were 82 hydrocarbon releases - the lowest ever annual count - including a one quarter reduction in the number of major and significant hydrocarbon releases from 2013/14 and roughly two-thirds less minor hydrocarbon releases;   
  • The number of dangerous occurrences reduced slightly to 369 (the hydrocarbon releases already mentioned account for over a fifth of this figure).  39 of these occurrences related to well operations and 44 related to pipeline operations; and
  • There were five evacuations reported in 2014/15 and a total of 14 in the last six years.  

The majority of injuries suffered were fractures, sprains and strains, as was the case in 2012/13 and 2013/14.  The next most common injuries were lacerations and open wounds, contusions and dislocations, in that order. This too is similar to 2012/13 and 2013/14.  
 
Handling, lifting or carrying and slips, trips and falls on the same level were by far the most common types of accident.  It seems that the number of accidents involving workers being struck by moving, falling or flying objects has fallen by a third compared to 2013/14, although the Report suspects that this may be due to a change in reporting behaviour.  Falls from height represented 10% of accidents, including the fatality.   

Regulatory activity

During 2014/15 the HSE:

  • Assessed 67 safety cases.  This is a decline from 2013/14 and is the lowest level over the past four years.  The Report does not state how many of these safety cases were accepted or rejected;  
  • Inspected 159 installations as part of arrangements for prioritising major hazard inspections offshore;  
  • Investigated 86 RIDDOR-reportable incidents; and
  • Served 33 improvement notices and six prohibition notices.  These figures are typical of levels seen in recent years.

The Report can be downloaded from the HSE website.