A British trade union’s survey has revealed offshore oil and gas workers’ transport safety concerns.  

Unite the Union has published the findings of a helicopter safety survey completed by 1,200 offshore oil and gas workers, with respondents wanting “more industry action and assurances” to improve the safety of flights.

The survey follows a series of safety issues involving helicopters transferring workers to and from offshore installations and platforms.

The poll asked a number of questions, including views on the potential reintroduction of the Super Puma model, a four-bladed, medium-sized utility vehicle, which was involved in a number of North Sea incidents between 2009 and 2016, when it was finally removed from the oil and gas sector.

Some 75% of respondents stated that they would never fly in one again.

April 2024 marked the 15th anniversary of the Peterhead Super Puma crash, which saw 16 men die after the aircraft experienced a catastrophic failure of the main rotor gearbox as a result of fatigue.

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Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said her union will never “allow offshore health and safety to be compromised by operators and contractors, and absolutely central to this objective is ensuring the full confidence of offshore workers in the helicopters in which they are transported”.

She added that “overwhelmingly offshore workers are telling Unite that more action and assurances are needed from the industry in order to improve the safety of helicopter flights”.

The oil and gas sector experienced a fatal crash in February, which killed one person and injured five others after a Sikorsky S-92, operated by Bristow for the Norwegian company Equinor, ditched into the sea near Bergen. The helicopter is now the primary aircraft used across the UK and Norway but is facing a global spare parts crisis.

Other results of the survey included 18% of offshore union members saying they would need to be ‘convinced’ that safety concerns were fully addressed before ever considering travelling in a Super Puma.

Meanwhile, 43% of respondents expressed concerns over the Sikorsky supply chain issues, but if resolved, it would ‘allay’ fears, and 36% said they had ‘confidence’ in the S-92.

John Boland, Unite’s lead officer in the offshore sector, said: “Offshore workers have clearly spoken about their horror over the Super Puma model ever being reintroduced.”

According to Unite, the 1,200 survey respondents come from a range of roles including operators, drillers, maintenance, caterers and cleaners. Workers from a number of major operators and contractors participated, including Altrad, Aramark, Bilfinger, Odjfell, Petrofac and Repsol.