Luck can’t last on offshore health & safety after helicopter ditch

23 Oct

Unite will highlight the growing fear among offshore workers over helicopter safety and rescue procedures at an emergency industry meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 24th October) in Aberdeen.

The Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) will reconvene following the ditching of a helicopter transporting offshore workers in the North Sea on Monday afternoon, the second such incidence in 6 months involving the Super Puma EC 225 – type aircraft.

Unite has already called into question the existing rescue procedures for ditched helicopters where the planned flight is based on the use of the ‘Dacon Scoop’ as the only method of rescue due to hazardous travelling conditions.

Unite Industrial Officer John Taylor said, “We go into this emergency meeting of the HSSG with serious concerns about whether these aircraft are fit for purpose and to make clear our members growing fears over wider safety procedures for offshore helicopter rescue, particularly where the rescue fall-back plans involve the use of the Dacon Scoop.

It’s unacceptable to Unite and our members that helicopters should be allowed to fly where conditions are deemed so hazardous that being fished-out of the sea by a mechanical device from a rescue vessel is the last line of safety. 

Mercifully there were no fatalities with this latest incident, largely due to the skills of the pilot crew, the close proximity of the Nord Nightingale tanker in the waters off Shetland and the elements. 

They were lucky but we can’t always rely on luck and we need to tighten-up industry safety standards now.”


Notes to Editors:

For further information please contact Unite Industrial Officer John Taylor in our Aberdeen Office on 0845 604 8312 or 01224 645271.

Unite Scotland has an open petition to improve safety for all offshore workers which you can sign and support here:

Informative articles on the use of the Dacon Scoop and also a short video clip of the scoop in action can be accessed on the news page of the Unite Offshore Catering Branch website at


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