Improved Safety Requirements for Going Offshore
Feb 6, 2017 News Archive
When I was in graduate school at the University of Houston (1989-1995), one of our professors arranged for about 12 students to visit an offshore (fixed) platform. At that time, I was carrying out research for my Master’s degree and just becoming familiar with diffraction analysis and Green’s Function. Although I have always been partial to the analytical side of engineering (our wave-structure interaction research was restricted to the computer lab), that initial offshore visit confirmed that I had landed in a very exciting field of engineering.
The preparation for the offshore trip consisted of watching the safety video at the heliport and another short video from the safety office on the rig.
About two months ago, one of our jobs gave me the opportunity to go offshore again. The first thing my wife told me was: “Be sure and come back with all your fingers!” This, of course, was based on stories she has heard about oilfield workers losing fingers. I assured her that I’d be extra careful and that I would not be getting anywhere close to operating drilling equipment. Nonetheless, she was relieved when I told her that the safety training requirements have changed noticeably since the first time I got to go offshore.
I don’t know when HUET (Helicopter Underwater Egress Training) became a standard requirement to go offshore, but I took my first HUET training in 2000 or 2001, at the University of Louisiana, at Lafayette (ULALA), formerly known as the University of Southern Louisiana. My second HUET class took place at a facility in West Houston, in 2009. Neither of those training courses included fire safety or anything else, just the HUET. If you don’t know what HUET training is, please watch this VIDEO from the below link. Essentially, the main part of the training (besides the classroom part) is simulating an emergency egress from an upside-down fully immersed in water helicopter cabin.
For my most recent offshore trip, a few weeks ago, I learned that the new standard training requirement is OPITO’s Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET). As mentioned on its WEBSITE, OPITO’s mission is to “support the industry to build a sustainable, competent and safe oil and gas workforce and to ensure that quality, innovation and partnership underpin everything that we do.”
I chose to take the BOSIET training offered by BASTION, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). The facility couldn’t be any better! In addition to BASTION’s having a heated indoor pool, a major side benefit was the fact that the 40ft-deep pool had a mockup of the international space station, used for astronaut training. The HUET training took place at an isolated end of the pool, but we could easily see the ISS. The instructors, Marty Stevens and Jim Fuderer, are highly experienced and were quite effective at keeping the class well informed and fully engaged. I strongly recommend their training! For information on BASTION, visit their WEBSITE.
Nowadays, the egress is to be done with and without the assistance of an emergency breathing system, EBE. After completing the standard BOSIET training, which is not based on using a compressed air EBS, I signed up for the CA-EBS training.
One last point about improved safety requirements for going offshore: As we watched the video in preparation for our chopper flight to the rig, we were asked if there were any travelers taking that specific flight for the first time. A couple of us raised our hands, and we were promptly given red wristbands to wear, alerting everyone that we were not to be heavily relied upon in emergency situations, due to our not being fully familiar with the specifics of the equipment/route, etc. So, while it felt a bit odd to be singled-out for lack of experience, I have to say that I see these changes in the requirements for going offshore as a very positive step in the right direction.