North Sea Oil Platform

Unite welcomes HSE report on dangers of ‘hated’ shift rotas

Unite the union has today (10 April) welcomed a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report which concluded a number of ‘fatigue risks’ exist due to changes in shift rotas at Shetland Gas Plant.

The HSE has issued an improvement notice following an inspection at the Shetland Gas Plant, where workers are now working on 3:3 and 3:4 rota patterns. Workers at a number of offshore installations were recently involved in industrial action challenging the imposition of new shift patterns including at the Shetland Gas Plant, Elgin-Franklin, North Alwyn and Dunbar platforms. The platforms are operated by Aker and Petrofac.

The improvement notice states: “Failure to demonstrate that you have taken all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to human health and the environment in that you have not made a suitable and sufficient assessment of fatigue risk arising from the current (2/3) and proposed (3/3/3/4) shift rota patterns for persons engaged in COMAH-critical tasks at the establishment, and the impact that fatigue risk will have on the likelihood of human error when carrying out those tasks and, in turn, the potential impact on major accident hazards.” Total which owns the gas plant has now been given until the 30 August to address the health and safety risks.

A report by Robert Gordon University previously identified that workers on three-week, equal-time rotas were nearly twice as likely to experience ill health as those on two-on-two-off shifts. The 3/3 of rota pattern is now estimated to be worked by 56 per cent of the workforce offshore, compared with just 17 per cent working the same pattern in 2007.

John Clark, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Unite warmly welcomes this important HSE report on the health and safety implications arising from the hated 3:3 and 3:4 rotas. We have consistently highlighted that issues such as ill-health and fatigue induced by long hours and periods of work could result in major incidents. However, Unite’s concerns have been completely ignored by industry and new contracts have instead been imposed on the offshore workforce. So, the HSE report is confirmation of what Unite has been saying for some time now. Offshore operators like Total must take immediate steps to scrap these new rotas and return to safe working practices.”

ENDS

For more information contact John Clark on 07785611897.

Notes to editors:

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.

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