Well, I don’t really know. I would like to see some statistics on how it compares to back in say the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Personally, I think its probably a LITTLE better. The companies I’ve been working with are constantly harping on safety. They go on and on til its coming out our ears. But I still hear of people doing really stupid things. Like that fire on the platform back in November last year , due to improper welding operations (http://www.blackelkenergy.com/news/67-explosion-and-fire-on-gulf-platform-occurred-during-welding-contractors-failed-to-follow-standard-safety-practices.html) . I mean, jeeze…
What the hell is it going to take?? I get sick and tired of being treated like a moron when I go to work. The company has to tell me how to get dressed in the morning? REALLY???
I’ve only been working offshore (professionally) since 1977! Having to re-take classes like BST (Basic Safety Training) or Rigpass really gets old. I mean, who forgets how to put on a life jacket??? What’s new in shipboard fire fighting? We have the same classes of fires we’ve always had (except they now label a galley grease fire as “K” for kitchen I guess- trying to make it SEEM like there’s actually something new). We fight them the same way.
I think the way to make things safer offshore is to concentrate on creating a culture of personal responsibility!!! Get people to understand that they can do what they’re going to do but THEY are responsible for their actions. They’ll pay attention if they know THEY are going to pay the price if anything goes wrong.
The fact is that we have all sorts of programs out here that SEEM to encourage safety. Instead, they take the ability to THINK about and then CHOOSE their actions away from people. Take away options from people and you take with it their responsibility. You can only BLAME them then, since you’ve taken away any REAL choices.
It seems to me these companies love to send people to these classes so they can tell the world, “it’s not OUR fault those people got hurt. After all, we sent them to training. They should have known how to do the job properly without getting hurt.” Yeah, like a day long class is really going to teach someone ALL they need to know to work safely out here. I don’t think so!
I’m NOT saying we need to go to any more classes!!! What I AM saying is that once a person goes through those very basic classes, they have only the bare minimum of knowledge. We can and should use the time spent in our weekly drills and safety meetings to train people PAST that bare minimum!
Those of us out here with some experience need to take into consideration that SOME of the people we’re working with are almost totally ignorant! From my perspective, it seems like a lot of the incidents are happening with relatively new people. We need to concentrate our efforts on training THOSE people! We need to keep a good eye on them. We need to take the time to really MENTOR them. We need to be generous with our time and our knowledge and not keep it to ourselves in fear of losing our jobs to the newbies…
It would help a LOT if we were not constantly having the crew size cut and cut and cut some more! OK, this below is referring to shipping and not so much drilling since I don’t know too much about drilling yet (but its probably still relevant)…
A typical ship used to carry a crew of 45-50 men. Now they sail with half that (and LOTS more work to do)! Some COIs (Certificate Of Inspection) will allow only 17 man crew (or less). This is for a 1000 ft long tanker!!! ATBs (tug/barge combination) which can run up to 600-700+ feet long, can be run with less than 10!!!
Check out the REAL results of the investigation into the Exxon Valdez incident. You’ll find that it was actually caused by the fact that the entire crew was exhausted and had NOTHING to do with the Captain at all. He could have been totally sober or drunk as a skunk and it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference.
They passed the 12 hour rule after the Valdez spill to remedy that. There are work hour restrictions in US law and in the STCW. So it applies to pretty much ALL shipping worldwide. That does include all the larger oilfield support vessels. I don’t know how the drilling industry has escaped notice on this but I don’t know of anything similar that they have to abide by (I might just be uninformed on this point- any drillers to comment?).
Ask any sailor around the world how well they follow that rule. I can almost guarantee you they’re being ‘forced’ by their company policies to break it constantly. Of course, company will never admit it, will blame it on the crew if it ever comes up, and will deny they ever had any idea it was happening 🙁
Being tired is one of the leading causes of accidents. I would think that would be one very easy solution to vastly improve safety. But of course, it would cost some extra money to hire a few extra hands. Is that gonna happen any time soon???
Safety first??? I don’t think so 🙁