Thompsons Solicitors is backing calls by Unite urging the Scottish Government to support the fast-track of Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) reforms and for an emergency Scottish Parliamentary debate into offshore health and safety following Friday’s fatal helicopter crash.
Just hours before Friday’s catastrophic tragedy, bereaved families and trade union representatives had criticised 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.
In light of Friday’s ditching, which claimed the lives of four and forced the rescue of a further fourteen crew, Unite and Thompsons are now calling for draft legislation to be fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament. A public consultation for Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson’s Members’ Bill which proposes to radically overhaul the current FAI system is currently underway but union leaders believe the Bill should now be urgently introduced.
Furthermore, following the fifth Super Puma offshore helicopter ditching in four years and a number of incidents throughout 2012 on North Sea rigs, an emergency debate into offshore health and safety should take place when the Scottish Parliament reconvenes next week.
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Friday’s horrific events should now compel the Scottish Government to ensure the safe passage through Parliament of Patricia Ferguson’s FAI reforms.
“On Thursday we vented our anger over the current FAI process and the ridiculousdelays in starting the FAI into the 2009 Super Puma crash, the agony this is causing victim’s families and the fact that we do not have legally enforceable outcomes from the process.
“This will be of no comfort to the families impacted by Friday’s catastrophe but we need these reforms to our civil justice system in Scotland and we need them now.
“Unite is also clear that we need an urgent debate into the future of offshore health and safety. This is our growth industry for the next thirty years. It generates unimaginable wealth both locally and globally. Politicians across the spectrum are pinning their economic and energy hopes to it but at what price?
As a country we need to forensically examine how we are protecting and serving the interests of the industry’s most important resource – its people.”
Thompsons Partner Chris Gordon, who is representing the families on the 2009 disaster is supporting Unite’s position. He said: “If ever we were faced with a time when emergency legislation was needed that time is now. The system we have is clearly inadequate and now we are in a position where a further four families are facing the same heartache and disappointment as the families of the 2009 tragedy as they fight for answers as to how their loved ones died.
“Fast tracking the FAI reforms is clearly the only option available to the Parliament and we will fight tooth and nail with Unite to see common sense prevail.”
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