The safety regime at Britain’s North Sea oil operators has been condemned after a report found almost 60% of oil platforms had problems that oil companies should have addressed.

The report, by the Health and Safety Executive, argues the industry had lost the trust of the regulator as a result of the failings uncovered by the three-year study. The study, which covers nearly 100 rigs and platforms, concluded that senior managers inside the oil industry were “not giving ongoing maintenance sufficient priority”.

The report added: “There is a poor understanding across the industry of the potential impact of degraded, non-safety-critical plant and utility systems on safety-critical elements in the event of a major accident.”

Graham Tran, regional officer of the Unite union, said the report indicated that there were a number of “bad players” who were putting lives at risk for the sake of a barrel of oil. “Oil companies make huge profits; there is no excuse for falling short on safety,” he said.

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