Press Release
13 September 2011

HELP WHISTLEBLOWERS TO PREVENT NORTH SEA OIL SPILLS, SAYS NORTH EAST EURO-MP
Action must be taken to make it easier for offshore gas and oil workers to blow the whistle on potentially unsafe working arrangements if we are to avoid accidents on offshore rigs.

That's the message from the European Parliament today, which has approved proposals by Labour to assist workers in raising their safety concerns.

Labour's proposals were backed by Stephen Hughes MEP today in a report that will influence the direction taken by the European Commission as it prepares to make formal proposals later this year.

Stephen Hughes wants action to be taken in the light of the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year and to ensure that a similar disaster does not occur in European waters.

Mr Hughes whose North East European constituency borders the North Sea supported amendments in support of whistleblowers. He said: "The mistakes that led to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico cannot be repeated in our waters.

"If we are to prevent lethal accidents and disastrous oil spills workers on rigs must be able to speak out if they have concerns.

"But people are often worried that if they raise their worries about lapses of safety, they will be put under pressure and could even lose their job.

"That's why I have tabled proposals for workers in the offshore oil and gas industry to be able to elect safety reps who will be free to ask questions and speak out without fear of harassment.

"We need to give workers a voice so that the people who are best placed to spot the dangers, have the confidence to speak out.

"All the technology in the world will not help if alarms are disabled and warnings ignored."

ENDS
NOTES FOR EDITORS

The proposals were adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. Background on the report, which includes these proposals alongside a range of recommendations on safety in the offshore oil and gas sector, can be found at:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/en/headlines/content/20110908FCS26135/2/html/Lessons-learned-from-2010-oil-spill-stricter-rules-for-offshore-drilling

The proposals for elected safety reps have the backing of trade unions representing workers in the offshore sector.