Work accident - Shell fined 900,000

Shell UK Limited, trading as Shell UK Exploration and Production (Shell Expro), were today fined a total of 900,000 at Stonehaven Sheriff Court, after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety legislation at an earlier hearing. The case follows an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the deaths of two workers on Shell Expro's Brent Bravo offshore production platform on 11 September 2003.

Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff were inspecting pipework in the utility leg of the installation, which is located some 180 miles east of the Shetland Isles, when they were overcome by a large release of hydrocarbon gas.

McLaren added: "Their deaths are a stark reminder of the dangers offshore workers can be exposed to if risks are not adequately managed and should act as a riposte to any suggestions that health and safety initiatives offshore have become over-zealous. As the case proves, any reduction in vigilance by either managers or the workforce may well have reprehensible results, not only in terms of harm to people, but also the sustainability of the UKCS. Good safety performance is inseparable from sustainable operational performance - ultimately optimum production is not possible when accidents take place offshore.

"This incident had very serious underlying causes: failure to maintain known defective equipment properly and a failure to assess potential consequences. HSE believes that the circumstances on Brent Bravo which led to these two deaths could have occurred on other offshore installations if maintenance had been neglected and continuation of production allowed to take priority over safety, notwithstanding the fact that this approach is senselessly short-sighted."

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