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Debate today in Parliament on safety of offshore oil and gas workers

Scottish Government Ministers are today (Thursday) being urged to back legislative proposals that could provide much needed reform of the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) process. Thompsons Solicitors is backing trade union calls for the legislation to be fast tracked ahead of a Parliamentary debate sparked by the latest offshore helicopter tragedy.

The debate has been instigated by North East MSP Richard Baker in support of fellow Labour member Patricia Ferguson’s Members Bill – the Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill’ – which aims to radically overhaul the current FAI system. The debate takes place amidst the scandalous delay of the FAI into the April 2009 Super Puma Crash off theAberdeenshire coast where sixteen offshore workers lost their lives and last month’s helicopter ditching off Shetland where four more workers perished.

Both Unite the Union and Thompsons believe these events should compel the Scottish Government to urgently adopt the Bill’s proposals which specifically calls for the FAI process to be speeded-up and for the Judge’s recommendations based on the FAI findings to be legally enforceable.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Twenty fatalities over the last four years as a result of offshore helicopter crashes in the North Sea should compel the Scottish Government to support Patricia Ferguson’s proposals and bring them into law as soon as possible.

“The current process is simply not fit for purpose and we only need to consider the prolonged agony of the families affected by the 2009 Super Puma crash who, over four years on, are still waiting for the FAI to get underway.

Chris Gordon, Partner“It’s also unacceptable that the recommendations of the FAI cannot be legally enforced, leaving workers reliant on the voluntarism of employers to implement what could be live-saving changes to the working environment – it’s a toothless process in its current guise and this must change too.”

Thompsons Partner Chris Gordon, who is representing the families of the 2009 crash has welcomed Parliamentary time being devoted to the issue. He added: “While I welcome the fact this serious issue is being given the time it rightly deserves in Parliament what we need is action and not just meaningless words. I sincerely hope the Scottish Government and the Ministers who are in the position to actually make a difference will listen to what is being said and consider not only what they can do but more importantly the consequences of inaction.

“Fast tracking these reforms won’t bring back any of the lives which have been sadly lost in recent tragedies but it will give the victims who survived these atrocities, and the families of those who lost their lives, peace of mind that lessons will be learned.

“This debate is long overdue and hopefully today will be a day where common sense prevails.”

The debate on the safety on offshore oil and gas workers will take place in the Scottish Parliament today at 12.30pm.


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