Tommy Timms is an award winning Unite safety rep on an oil rig managed by Nexen Petroleum UK, based in the North Sea. Let’s find out why his role is so important.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, when 167 people were killed in an oil rig accident off the coast of Scotland. Safety and maintenance procedures were found to be inadequate.
“As a safety rep you always remember these things,” says Tommy. “It’s always on your mind.”
Offshore working can be dangerous if the right procedures aren’t followed. Tommy explains: “You have a refinery, a landing pad for helicopters and residence for workers all in one place in the middle of the sea. Safety is paramount, particularly on older platforms with risk of gas leaks.”
Tommy has used his previous experience in the chemical processing industry and his health and safety training with the TUC to increase safety awareness on board the rig. He carries out risk assessments, introduces new staff to the platform and acts as an intermediary between the workforce and managers.
“The training with the TUC has given me the confidence to carry out my safety rep role. It’s given me the power to negotiate with managers and stop a job if it’s not right.”
At the end of each shift, Tommy sends out a safety message to colleagues to “make them stand and stop so they don’t put themselves or others in a dangerous situation”. He also keeps in touch with Step Change in Safety, an organisation working to raise safety standards in the UK oil and gas industry, and passes on important information to management and colleagues.