A report published following a three year investigation by inspectors from the offshore safety division of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has shown a number of serious safety failings by the North Sea oil industry.
It has led to accusations that the industry is forgetting the lessons learnt from the Piper Alpha disaster in which an offshore catastrophe caused the death of 167 oilmen.
The investigation found nearly two-thirds of platforms and mobile rigs out of the 100 inspected were either in a poor state of repair or did not meet with safety regulations with backlog levels reaching 26,000 hours.
Michael Napier, a Senior Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell represented many of the families who were affected by the 1988 Piper Alpha explosion. He said: "In 1990 a report into the disaster severely criticised safety procedures on the rig in which most of the victims suffocated in toxic fumes which developed after a gas leak set off the blasts and sparked the fire.
"It is of great concern to discover that simple health and safety regulations are not being implemented suggesting that the industry has not learnt from this tragic event."
It was also revealed that half of the systems relied upon to fight fires were assigned warnings from the HSE, in many cases due to the corrosion of pipework. The HSE has already taken enforcement action against a number of oil companies to address failures and at least one platform has been shut down.
David Urpeth from Irwin Mitchell previously successfully represented workers® fight for compensation following an explosion at Conoco Philips Immingham plant. He commented: "These figures should act as a wake up call to the industry. Employees should not be put at risk under these circumstances. Health and safety regulations exist for a reason and should be upheld rigorously."