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Health and safety in the North sea is improving according to statistics released recently. It has been reported that the number of gas leaks and oil leaks that could lead to significant incidents have fallen and are continuing to fall.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has advised the oil and gas industry not to become complacent. It highlighted that the first employee fatal accident cases recorded since 2007 has been in the offshore sector.

The figures showing a fall in hydrocarbon releases were produced in the HSE’s Offshore Safety Statistics Bulletin.  The statistics in the bulletin show that the number of major hydrocarbon releases in 2011/2012 fell from 73 to 52 and the number of minor hydrocarbon releases fell from 93 to 75.

The head of the Offshore Safety Division of the HSE Steve Walker stated that he welcomed the downward trend. He highlighted to the industry that they will need to focus on achieving the target of halving the number of hydrocarbon releases by April 2013. He also highlighted that the recent major leak on the Elgin platform should act as a valuable reminder to the potential consequences that releases can present.

It is reported that there was 425 recorded dangerous occurrences within the industry this year which is only 7 fewer than last year. Hydrocarbon release was blamed for 29.9 percent of the dangerous occurrences, well related incidents were blamed for 10.1%, fire for 6.8% and equipment failure for 30%.

Steve Walker highlighted that independent verifications within the industry had identified serious issues with regards to the accumulation of important safety critical maintenance and he urged improvement in this area.   

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