Accountability? — SCREW YOU!

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We can report that more and more offshore workers are being dragged in for disciplinary action on a daily basis for alleged breaches of safety policies or procedures and the numbers just keep growing. Not only that, we're also seeing more trumped up allegations being brought against members to try and justify disciplinary action on the basis it impacts on safety, and as we all know ‑ you must be ACCOUNTABLE for your own safety and the safety of others. We agree with that 100%, but what we don't agree with is the idea that some people are more 'accountable' than others?

Here's just a few examples our Branch has dealt with recently;

We've had people dismissed for doing work they weren't competent to do. Fair enough you might think, but what about the manager who put the lads on the job in the first place insisting they could do it, he didn't have any action taken against him? We've had people issued with final written warnings because they didn't report an injury sustained during their leave time, (which apparently put his safety and the safety of others at risk) while other workers who have done the same thing are put on light duties and no action is taken against them? We've seen written warnings issued to people who have made "safety interventions" (aimed at improving safety behaviours) because the intervention wasn't done 'properly', while no action is taken against the individual who triggered the intervention in the first place? We've had a case where three supervisors were all considered to have failed in some way to manage their 'duties and responsibilities' after several minor incidents, two of them were placed on "Performance Improvement Plans", while the other (lowest level) was dismissed?

We've also had a host of "Stop Card" style disciplinary actions for things like ‑ no gloves; not holding the hand rail; crossing barriers; no hearing protection; taking glasses off, even peeing over the side and many other minor 'behavioural' type offences. Yet when the workforce submit similar 'observations' about mangers, there is no action taken against the manager? These are seen as 'good observations' with, believe it or not ‑ good behavioural reactions! Accountability it seems, is like something else we're all familiar with ‑ something which only ever rolls down hill and when it hits the fan your guaranteed to get covered in it! Accountability stinks!

Something needs to be done about the imbalance that exists when it comes to being 'accountable'. The troops are losing faith in the systems. Instead of being pro‑active by using minor incidents to inform and educate workers, employers are

reaching for the 'big stick' at the first opportunity. We can accept that where it is justified disciplinary action must be taken, but when this occurs it must be applied consistently. In other words it must be applied upwardly as well! Failure to adopt a more proactive and balanced approach will only lead to incidents and injuries being covered up and going unreported. In turn, this will mean we don't learn from examples of bad practice or near misses.

The UK industry has experienced a couple of decent years recently with injury statistics showing offshore installation fatalities at zero and major injury rates down. [Until this year! Ed.] This was not achieved by sacking people and wiping out rain forests to produce mountains of written warnings. The good statistics of recent times will not be sustained if we carry on this way and especially not where the underlying causes of so many incidents can be traced to poor management, but no action is taken against them.

And for the last word on accountability let's look at the Deep Water Horizon tragedy; 11 men are dead, a state of the art multi‑million dollar rig has been destroyed, and the biggest environmental disaster possibly of all time has taken place. The outcome ‑ the man in charge gets 'asked' to step down and in return walks away with his annual £1 million salary banked, he retains millions of pounds worth of shares, and he receives a £10 million pension‑pot to get him through his later years! At the same time workers with young families find their offshore careers in tatters because they are considered 'accountable' for alleged breaches of health and safety procedures! That's 'accountability' in the offshore energy industry ‑ S#*T ‑and it stinks!

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