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SAFETY TRAINING STANDARDS in the global oil and gas industry are improving with a rising number of offshore workers training to the world-leading standards originally developed in the North Sea.

OPITO, the industry body which sets the benchmark for safety and competency training worldwide, has reported an impressive 270 per cent surge in the number of companies adopting its standards in the last five years.

The number of workers being annually trained to OPITO standards has risen from 33,000 in 2005 to 140,000.

The UK headquartered organisation’s world class training network has also rapidly expanded and now spans 30 countries. This continues to grow with companies as far afield as Malaysia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Iraq and Kazakhstan adopting its emergency response and occupation standards developed to reflect industry best-practice.

OPITO Group CEO David Doig believes the figures demonstrate a clear desire in the industry for uniformity when it comes to the safety and competency of its workforce.

"The delivery and content of basic safety and competency training varies dramatically from region to region and lacks consistency," he said.

"However, since 2005 the number of international oil and gas workers training to OPITO standards has grown significantly. Where this used to be in the tens of thousands it is now in the hundreds of thousands.

"In an industry like ours where workers from any number of different companies and countries are working side by side, a common approach to training is the only way of ensuring that everyone is capable of carrying out their job to the same high standard and return home safely at the end of the day. I view this as a basic right as an employee of an organisation that values its people.

The international organisation works with Governments, national oil companies, multi-nationals and contractors to provide independent advice and guidance on effective management of workforce skills development, emergency response, occupational standards, qualifications and quality assurance of training delivery.

Last month, OPITO announced it was rolling out MIST (Minimum Industry Safety Training) to the global oil and gas industry. The MIST standard ensures that the global workforce has the necessary safety awareness and training to avoid risk and ultimately incidents. It covers nine basic safety elements, including the core topics of risk assessment and permit to work, with new key safety awareness centred on mechanical lifting and platform integrity.

OPITO International has three business units focused on Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and the Americas with plans to establish new operations in 2011.