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    OPITO announces big changes to offshore safety

    News // January 25, 2007

    OPITO has unveiled major changes to offshore safety and emergency training.

    After extensive consultation with the oil and gas industry, the HSE and the Unions, OPITO has unveiled major changes to offshore safety and emergency training.

    The changes will ensure that offshore workers have the most comprehensive preparation and attain the highest levels of competence for working in the North Sea, one of the harshest environments in the world.
     
    The existing Basic Offshore Safety Induction & Emergency Training (BOSIET) and Further Offshore Emergency Training (FOET) standards, developed in the North Sea, are recognised around the world as the best in the industry and have been adopted in Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia. Annually, over 80,000 people world-wide are trained to OPITO standards.
     
    “Both courses have been updated to reflect today’s offshore oil and gas working environment and the safety systems which control it,” explains OPITO chief executive, David Doig. “The training will now include operation of emergency exits when escaping from the helicopter simulator, practical escape training using a smokehood and increased opportunities to practice basic fire-fighting. The aim is to build confidence among trainees in a step by step manner.”
     
    Currently when under-going the helicopter underwater escape training delegates learn how to free themselves using the windows. However, they do not have to break the emergency exits before getting out and heading to the surface.

    With the introduction of emergency breathing systems in 2003 delegates now have more time available to escape from the submerged helicopter as the device provides a limited supply of breathing air.
     
    Mr Doig says : “Following concerns voiced by offshore workers, OPITO commissioned a leading safety consultant to undertake a study into stress levels among delegates going through the underwater escape training. The standards were modified in line with the findings and recommendations in this study. The result is more realistic training, practicing escape by breaking the emergency exits using the re-breather device.”
     
    The details of all the changes are as follows:
     
    • More opportunities to practice basic fire-fighting using different types of extinguishers.
    • Practical elf rescue/escape training focussed on escape using a smokehood of a type issued to offshore personnel.
    • Helicopter underwater emergency training to include operating an emergency exit.
    • More helicopter underwater emergency training to build confidence and experience.
     
    Oil services company, PSN, is embracing the new standards and has already been upgrading its workforce training, beginning with its senior management team.
     
    Peter Brown, PSN’s UK Operations Director, said: “Safety is PSN’s top priority so we are delighted to support any OPITO initiative that further improves the rigorous health and safety standards already in place. CEO Bob Keiller, Director Dean Hunter and I completed the new offshore emergency training course last week. Practising numerous escapes, under different circumstances, dramatically increased our dexterity and confidence. The most valuable lesson was learning how to use the re-breather device. It provides precious time for training to work and removes fear from underwater escape. This training increases the chance of survival and may ultimately save lives.” 
     
    Offshore emergency response training is reviewed every three years. The standards are reviewed by a work group comprising UKOOA, OCA, the Inter Union Offshore Oil Committee, HSE, IADC, STEPChange and training providers. For these changes the review process included representatives from the Norwegian oil industry. OPITO, who maintain the training standards and provide quality assurance of those organisations providing the training, facilitated the review.
     
    The new standards will be in operation from April 2007, this is to give OPITO approved training providers sufficient time to obtain any new equipment and re-train staff to deliver the training.
     
    OPITO's strategic role lies in identifying current and future skills needs and ensuring that education and training arrangements are in place to meet them. Based at Portlethen, near Aberdeen, it is also the body responsible, on behalf of the offshore oil and gas industry, for ensuring the quality and content of key safety and emergency training.
     

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