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Maritime safety can never be taken for granted says legal expert

Posted: 7th July 2023

A legal expert specialising in maritime safety has called for extra vigilance following a number of tragic incidents in Scotland this year.

This is Maritime Safety Week and Bruce Craig, a Partner at Pinsent Masons, highlighted the need to maintain the UK’s high safety standards.

Mr Craig, who has represented global and national organisations over a range of complex litigations and prosecutions around safety at sea issues, said the UK’s approach to safety is world-leading but there is always room for improvement.

He said: “For decades the UK’s adherence to maritime safety has been Gold Standard, and that remains so post-Brexit, but initiatives such as Maritime Safety Week raise awareness further and promotes ever-higher standards.

“There is an onus on operators and employers to eliminate risk wherever possible, and where that is impossible, to reduce the risk to a level as low as reasonable practical.”

Mr Craig cited several incidents which underlines the need for eternal vigilance, including the capsizing of the tug vessel Biter on the River Clyde outside Greenock’s East India Harbour in February which resulted in two deaths, and the grounding of the ferry MV Pentalina in Orkney in April, when 60 passengers onboard had to be rescued by lifeboat, and weeks of disruption to ferry services to Orkney followed.

The offshore wind sector has also recorded nearly 350 safety-related incidents in 2022, according to health and safety organisation G+.

A report found that injuries in the UK offshore wind sector were substantially higher than the next highest country, Taiwan, which reported just 185, noting that complacency causes injuries. The organisation found that there were 868 reported incidents and injuries last year, of which 325 took place on a vessel, 298 on a turbine and 185 onshore.

Mr Craig added: “People who work on a vessel at sea, on an offshore wind turbine or an offshore installation are operating in some of the world’s most challenging environments and it’s only right that they are protected by the highest safety standards the industry can provide. Maritime Safety Week is a welcome, if sobering, reminder that the industry has a duty to maintain and improve standards wherever possible and that there is never any room for complacency.”

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