With organisations in the oil and gas, renewables and marine sectors working together more often, IOSH's Offshore Group held the event to explore the risks they share and the solutions to them.
One of the challenges highlighted by Chris Streatfeild, Director of Health and Safety for RenewableUK, is having different regulatory regimes. But, he added, this does not mean the sectors cannot combine to protect employees, citing the example of new guidelines for offshore emergency response which were published earlier this year and combined several organisations.
Les Linklater, Executive Director of Step Change in Safety, explained that in the oil and gas sector there is ongoing work to remove unnecessary duplication within safety systems offshore to enhance worker protection.
Some of the cross-sector risks faced offshore were highlighted by Peter Lowson, Offshore Energy Liaison Officer for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. They include the possibility of collision between vessels, helicopter incidents and workers falling overboard.
There are a number of ways that these and other risks can be controlled, added Peter, including the sharing of resources such as the communication infrastructure, the development of new policies and procedures to adapt to the changing environment and the opportunity to develop joint emergency procedures and drills.
The event, the inaugural Offshore Group annual conference, was called Let's Talk: exploring the synergies and differences between the offshore oil and gas and offshore renewables sector. It was held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland on Wednesday 16 November.
It was opened by IOSH President Graham Parker. Over 60 delegates, who included international business leaders and safety and health professionals from within the industry, also heard presentations from Chris Baldwin, Technical Advisor at the International Marine Contractors Association; and the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Trevor Johnson and Bruce Appleton. Meanwhile, Chris Flint and Bob Egan, Head of Energy Division and Head of Workforce Engagement at HSE respectively, led a question and answer session.
After the event, Simon Hatson, Chair of IOSH's Offshore Group, said: "As the offshore windfarms are being built further offshore and the sectors are required to work even closer to each other, it is essential that we consider the safety and health implications of this.
"As was recognised throughout the event, within our industry it is vital that, where we can, we seek to combine our knowledge and resources to put robust safety and health management systems in place. This way we can share our knowledge, efforts and provisions to continue to protect our workers from harm.
"Having these systems in place not only benefits workers but our industry as well, by ensuring we are being efficient and productive with our efforts."