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Industry seeks common global HSE standards


A major piece of research, commissioned by international skills body - OPITO, has revealed that the industry overwhelmingly supports common global standards for health and safety training.

The findings of the research, which was conducted by the Aberdeen Business School at the Robert Gordon University, show that a lack of consistency and variations in regional approaches to training are barriers to achieving competency and changes in behaviour.

Launched at OPITO's first global Safety and Competence Conference in Abu Dhabi recently, the study, entitled Beyond the Barricades, seeks to provide in-depth understanding of the ways in which training is delivered, how it adds values to those operating internationally, the means that are used to measure that value and the significance for companies of international standards in achieving improved safety and competency.

The main barrier to achieving global standards was the variety and complexity of existing standards. Others were culture, language and climatic requirements as well as the confusing number and varying roles of regulatory bodies and organisations.

The solution, according to respondents, is to develop an effective global standard that is flexible and takes account of local operational environments. Increased communication and awareness, high quality instructors, continual auditing, familiar frames of reference and improving a culture of personal awareness were all cited as ways of overcoming the barriers.

Almost 97 per cent felt that uniform global industry standards would result in higher standards, improved workforce mobility, efficiency, quality of training and capabilities in the workforce, increased ability of companies to respond to incidents, trade globally and to benchmark training, and greater capacity for organisations to assess and share resource requirements as well as reductions in training costs.

"OPITO is very encouraged by these findings. Our goal as an international skills body owned by the industry is to improve global safety and competency by ensuring that every worker anywhere in the world is trained to the same high standards," said David Doig, chief executive of OPITO.

"Armed with this research, we will now carry out thorough engagement and consultation across the whole industry to develop global standards within a framework that takes account of specific local and regional requirements in a meaningful way."

However, Mr Doig points out that their efforts will fail if the industry, governments and regulatory bodies in all oil and gas regions across the globe are not aligned in supporting this ambition.

"With safety very high on the agenda post-Macondo we have a strategic imperative to realise common standards before the urgency begins to wane. History tells us that this industry is reactive.

"Oil and gas is a very high risk industry but it must recognise that while it must continue to be prepared to take risks, it does not do so by recklessly endangering its people and the environment."

Over 60 senior figures from multi-national, national and independent oil companies as well as service companies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australasia, North America and South America were interviewed