Offshore safety regulators in the United Kingdom have made what offshore injury lawyers believe is a major mistake, under pressure from drilling companies. The Health and Safety Executive, which is responsible for safety regulations in the North Sea has lightened the rules for reporting of offshore oil and gas drilling accidents.
The announcement of the new rules comes even as offshore driller Total continues to struggle with blocking a gas leak that plagued the area for more than a month.
According to the new regulation introduced by the Health and Safety Executive, offshore oil and gas drilling companies need to report injuries only if the injuries have caused the worker to be out of work for more than seven days. The earlier rule required that companies report these injuries if the worker was out of work for three days. However, under EU Laws, offshore drilling companies are still required to maintain records of any injuries that result in three or more days of worker incapacitation.
The announcement of the new rule comes even as the leak at the Elgin Field continues unabated. The leak has been spewing as much 3,000 tons of carbon a day into the environment, since it was first detected. A fleet of nine vessels and two rigs has been trying to bring the situation under control. Since the leak was discovered, Total has shut down production on the Elgin Field, and has evacuated all its personnel from its site.
This was not the right time for UK offshore safety regulators to tamper with the existing rules. Offshore companies need to be held to high standards not only in their maintenance and safety operations, but also in the reporting of accidents and injuries.