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    Offshore industry rolls out drug awareness campaign

    News // May 9, 2003
    May has seen the beginning of the roll out of a three month safety campaign to warn UK oil and gas workers of the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse offshore.As part of a nationwide police drive to raise drugs awareness, industry safety leaders are working alongside Grampian Police to highlight the specific risks associated with the offshore environment.

    Over the next three months every offshore installation as well as industry training centres, company offices and helicopter operators around the country will receive a series of six posters promoting the message that drugs and safety don't mix.

    In addition, twenty thousand leaflets are being distributed to employees across the oil and gas industry and new guidelines on how to deal with suspected cases of drug misuse are being issued to offshore installation managers. As well as helping workersrecognise the potential dangers, the campaign will also provide details of a confidential help line for advice and support.

    Tom Botts, chairman for the oil and gas industry Step Change in Safety effort which is co-coordinating the distribution of the campaign posters and leaflets, said: "This campaign is another example of good Health and Safety practice being developed whenindustry groups come together to address an issue. The industry workgroup has been working with Grampian Police, consulted with the workforce and gained feedback to help make this campaign a success.

    "The campaign alerts all of us to the effects that drugs can have on our well-being, our safety, the safety of our workmates and the overall performance at work. All drugs, including alcohol and some prescribed medication, can increase the risk of accidents and that is clearly something everyone in our industry wants to prevent."

    James Urquhart, Chief Inspector at Grampian Police's Oil Liaison Unit, said:"This is an excellent initiative, which demonstrates the effectiveness of multi-agency and partnership working. Drug misuse is a problem which affects the whole of society, including industry, and it is heartening to see one of the key industries in theUK taking the lead in raising the awareness of staff as to the dangers of drugs and the importance of safety in the workplace. Grampian Police is delighted to be involved in this initiative, which complements other national drug awareness campaigns".

    Graham Tran, regional officer for Amicus, said: "Whilst the Trade Unions do not believe that there is a major problem offshore in relation to drugs and alcohol, the Unions support any initiative to make the workplace free from the misuse of drugs and substances. However we believe that dealing with the results of drugs misuse is only one aspect of any policy in combating this problem. We must look at the causes that drive people to such extreme measures and the emphasis should be on support for the individuals to help them deal with their problems. We would like to look at a wider campaign that will end the need for reliance on alcohol, drugs and other substances."

    Ian Whewell, deputy head of HSE Offshore Division, said: "This is an important campaign highlighting a potentially serious problem. Misuse of drugs cannot only put an individual's safety at risk but also that of all those on an offshore installation. HSEwelcomes this initiative."

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