Richard Baker MSP has today (Friday) backed calls by the Unite union, supported by Thompsons Solicitors, for an emergency debate in Holyrood on offshore health. The Labour member for the North East region has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament which he will be urging MSPs to support to allow the issue to be discussed as soon as possible.
The North East MSP is also supporting the union's calls to speed up the Fatal Accident Inquiry system which comes after a further delay into the launch of an FAI over the deaths of 16 people in the Super Puma crash off the Aberdeenshire coast in April 2009. Patricia Ferguson MSP currently has a Members’ bill out for consultation which proposes a swifter FAI launch and legal enforcement of the judge’s recommendations. The Bill is being supported by Thompsons Solicitors which is acting for the families of the 2009 tragedy.
Parliament returns on Tuesday and Richard Baker will also seek to raise these issues during the Scottish Government's debate on its legislative programme.
Richard Baker MSP said: "The deep sense of concern amongst workers in the industry after the latest helicopter crash is only heightened by the fact that the FAI into the 2009 crash has still not taken place. This means that four years after the 2009 tragedy we still do not have recommendations from that process into what changes need to be made to ensure offshore workers safety.
"That is why I have tabled a motion in Parliament to call on the Scottish Government to speed up the FAI process, something which could be achieved if they support the measures Patricia Ferguson is currently consulting on for her member's bill.
"The fact that we have now had five helicopters ditching in four years and so many lives lost means it is also important that the Scottish Parliament debates offshore safety at the earliest opportunity. Unite are right to urge parliament to do so and that is why I hope members will support the motion I have tabled for debate.
"The delays in the FAI process and the number of incidents we have seen in the past four years also means it is important my colleague Frank Doran's proposal for a wider independent inquiry into helicopter safety in the North Sea is taken forward. It is vital our oil and gas workers can travel to their work offshore confident they will be safe and a comprehensive, independent inquiry would be key to securing this. Oil and gas workers have already waited far too long for answers to questions which are crucial to their safety."
Thompsons Partner Chris Gordon added: “Unfortunately any action will be too little too late for the families who have already endured years of indecision, lack of information and downright failings in the system but if other families can be protected from suffering in this way then this should of course be actioned.
“It is encouraging Richard Baker is taking this matter so seriously and I would urge parliamentarians to support him and ensure swift action is taken.”