Inquiry updated on efforts to modify survival suits for offshore workers

Staff ~ The Telegram
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The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) updated the inquiry into offshore helicopter safety today on the oil and gas industry's efforts to introduce underwater breathing devices and modified survival suits for workers travelling offshore by helicopter.
Paul Barnes, Atlantic Canada manager for CAPP, said the local offshore oil industry started using the underwater breathing devices in May.
The industry first started looking at using breathing devices at the request of the offshore regulator, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board in February 2000.
These compressed air cylinders provide about a minute of air for offshore workers in a helicopter that has ditched in the water.
Prior to the March 12 crash of Cougar Flight 491, CAPP had targeted a start date of May 4 to introduce the devices.
Barnes also said the process of reviewing the standard for survival suits worn by offshore workers officially begins today by the Canada General Standards Board in Ottawa. The board notified CAPP in February of this year that it would review the current standard. That standard dates back to 1999, though it was revised in 2005.
Two years later, the current survival suits worn by offshore workers were introduced.
Since the March 12 helicopter crash that killed 17 of the 18 people aboard Cougar Flight 491, a number of complaints were received about those survival suits - and that led to retesting of offshore workers to make sure they have properly fitting suits.
As part of this process, Barnes said 150 people were identified as of September as still having poorly fitting survival suits.
Until they receive custom suits, they cannot fly on the helicopters and must travel offshore via supply boats.
Barnes said 91 workers have since received modified versions of the Helly Hansen survival suits. The rest are awaiting a new suit known as the HTS-1, which requires approval by Transport Canada. Testing of this suit is scheduled for next week in Halifax.
Barnes resumes testimony this afternoon.
CAPP represents 130 oil and gas companies in Canada. The organization represents all the oil and gas companies working off Newfoundland except Husky Energy, which operates the White Rose oilfield.

Organizations: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Canada General Standards Board Transport Canada Husky Energy

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Ottawa, Halifax Newfoundland White Rose

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