Workforce engagement “critical” for offshore health and safety

Workforce engagement is essential to encourage a safe and healthy working environment offshore, a meeting of industry representatives has heard.

Workforce engagement is crucial offshore
Workforce engagement is crucial offshore

Shane Gorman, Workforce Engagement Coordinator for member-led organisation Step Change in Safety, said when workers are engaged they feel empowered to raise awareness of unsafe situations, preventing themselves and their colleagues from coming to harm.

Shane was speaking at a meeting arranged by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Offshore Group.

The discussion was around workforce engagement - a word which is often over used and misunderstood. Shane explained that in his role he talks to ‘the workforce’, discusses safety issues and matters, and empowers each individual, regardless of job role or title, to feel confident enough to report upon any safety issue.  

He told delegates how they can each influence safety in their workplaces, including providing information about how they can become safety representatives.

He said: “Workforce engagement is key, not just to delivering key facts and information about safety systems offshore but to having the workforce chatting to each other, having open discussions about potential hazards and playing their part in the safety of everyone offshore. 

“There can be misconceptions about workforce engagement on and offshore. It’s not one individual delivering a one-hour talk to a room full of people. It’s building confidence, empowering individuals and driving safety messages through intervention.” 

Shane, an IOSH member, is an experienced safety representative having spent many years working offshore. Step Change in Safety was borne out of the investigation which followed the Piper Alpha disaster, which happened in July 1988, killing 167 offshore workers. Shane had a personal experience with the world’s worst oil and gas disaster having lost his dad, David Gorman, on that terrible and tragic night.

Simon Hatson, Chair of IOSH’s Offshore Group, said: “The offshore industry is a very hazardous one. It is critical, therefore, that workforces are engaged in the development and maintenance of the health and safety systems. 

“Our event was very informative for people working in the sector. Both Shane and Dave are experienced safety representatives and I hope delegates were able to take away some insights to share with their own workforces.”

The meeting, held in Aberdeen on Monday 15 May, also heard an account from Dave Thomson, a safety representative and member of Step Change in Safety’s G18, who spoke about his role as an offshore safety representative and the challenges he faces.


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