Australian Union Calls for Better Offshore Safety
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has called for better safety standards in the offshore oil and gas sector after the release of an investigation report into the crushing death of one of its members.
MUA member Andrew Kelly was killed when crushed by a container on board the Skandi Pacific, which was performing work under contract from Chevron, off the Pilbara Coast, Western Australia, on July 14, 2015.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report exposes some worrying gaps in the safety regulation of the offshore maritime industry, says the MUA. It found that:
• no Australian occupational health and safety law or agency had jurisdiction over the Australian-crewed Skandi Pacific at the time of the incident in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone;
• the safety management system on board was inadequate, with no defined limits for working in poor weather or the additional risks of working in an open-sterned vessel where the sea is free to wash over the deck; and
• the Skandi Pacific’s safety management system was not based in Australian safety legislation, but instead on the offshore industry document Guidelines for Offshore Marine Operations.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said Kelly’s death was avoidable and the current rules are simply not strong enough, particularly when considering adverse weather and open-stern vessels.
“The Guidelines for Offshore Marine Operations has not been approved by Australian authorities and does not recognize the critical concepts of risk, duty of care, consultation and the hierarchy of controls of risk that exists in Australian legislation,” Crumlin said.
“Importantly, Guidelines for Offshore Marine Operations does not include guidance dealing with the loading and unloading of open-stern vessels in heavy seas. The matters highlighted in the ATSB report could and should be dealt with, quickly, in an updated Australian offshore supply vessel safety code of practice.
“Yet the Turnbull Government wants to repeal the only offshore supply vessel safety code of practice currently in force in its Seafarers and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, and remove the right for unions to participate in the development of future offshore safety codes of practice.
“Companies such as Chevron also need to heed this report and give preference to closed-stern vessels to perform this type of work when awarding contracts in the future.
“Andrew Kelly’s death was avoidable and the MUA again sends its condolences to his family on a day which will unfortunately provide yet another painful reminder that all workers have the right to arrive home safely from work each and every day,” Crumlin said.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.