Zone in on Marine Safety

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The number of collisions, near misses and serious marine incidents occurring within the 500m zone around an installation is increasing.  

These incidents range from objects being dropped when moving cargo between installations and ships, to potentially catastrophic collisions between ships and installations.  A specifically-created workgroup including Step Change representatives, the Marine Safety Forum and HSE plans to raise awareness for the control of marine operations inside the 500m zone and bring about a reduction of incidents. 

Tea Shack News has learned of 25 high-potential incidents and collisions within this 500m zone in UK waters within the past three and a half years.  This is a worrying trend and is only based on the incidents that we know of. 

The Dutyholder is responsible for every activity within a 500m radius of the installation, ensuring that high quality communication between the vessel and the installation is maintained at all times, and that recognised operating limits are adhered to.  This good practice is not consistent across the North Sea and accidents are happening.  Recent reviews show that the threat of collision from attending vessels is significantly higher rather than those from errant vessels.  

Guidance and best practice already exists, but levels of compliance on vessels and offshore installations is still low.  The size and power of vessels has increased over they years while the design standards and impact resistance of offshore installations has not.  The potential for significant damage from collision very high.  One recent collision resulted in an improvement notice from the HSE.  The Sea Falcon supply vessel was found to be travelling in excess of four knots inside the 500m zone - recognised marine industry guidelines recommend vessel travel at less than 0.5 knots.  The vessel subsequently crashed into a platform. 

The workgroup's goal is to reduce the incident frequency by increasing the awareness of the danger and ensuring any available guidance is adhered to.  One solution may be the adoption of a marine accountable person similar to the heli-landing officer (HLO). 

For updates on the workgroup's progress, go to www.marinesafetyforum.org.