Scottish oil worker: “Without Industri Energi I would have been ruined today”Friday 19. May 2017
«Without the help I have received from Industri Energi, I would have been ruined and probably ended up on the street» said Dale McAngus, who earlier this year crushed his foot while working on the Norwegian continental shelf.
Scottish Dale Martin McAngus (45) on January 15th was on his way to his first offshore tour on the Norwegian continental shelf. After 10 months unemployed, he had finally been assigned a temporary employment contract through Programmed Marine, for the company Prosafe, on the Safe Scandinavia rig, which was hired as a fleet / support vessel by Statoil on the Oseberg East field on the Norwegian continental shelf.
As a temporary employee, Dale was worried that he would lose his salary whilst he was delayed owing to weather in Bergen and waited for the helicopter to fly to the rig. He thought of a tip he had received from a colleague, namely to contact Industri Energi British Case handler Fraser Knox.
«I wondered if my employer was paying me for the time while I was delayed on land. I called Fraser and shortly after, I had my question answered and become a member of Industri Energi» says Dale McAngus.
Four days later, January 19th, Dale was on a lifting assignment on the top of the living quarters at Safe Scandinavia. It was dark and there was movement on the rig owing to weather conditions. Previouslly other crews have expressed concern about lifting operations in this area of the rig. But the work had not been stopped.
Dales teams will lift a 14 meter long,11 tonnes special container with drilling equipment, a so-called basket, from a supply vessel to the storage space at the top of the rig. But something goes wrong, Dale slips and the container lands on his right foot, severly crushing his foot.
Worried about the future
Dale McAngus was transported quickly by helicopter to Haukeland Hospital in Bergen, but the doctors conclude that they can not operate due to heavy swelling in the foot. For days he was in the corridor at Haukeland before being transferred to a hospital in Aberdeen by private plane.
There Dale lay for several weeks just waiting for the swelling to go down so that the doctors can operate. But the British doctors would no longer operate. They feared an operation would exacerbate the damage and they thought there was a risk of infection so wished to wait until the foot healed further.
«Nothing happened at the hospital and I eventually wanted to go home to my family in Thailand» says Dale.
At the same time, he was worried about the future. He had been out of work for ten months before the accident. Finally, he had got a foot inside, never thinking he would be seriously injured after only four days.
«I feared I would never be able to work again. I was afraid I would lose my foot and was very worried about my financial future» he says.
Required full Norwegian salary
Meanwhile, National Secretary Fraser Knox in Industri Energi has been notified of the accident.
«I contacted Dale and assured him that he should not only be paid for the period he should be offshore, but according to the collective agreement and the insurance required by the employer they will have full pay throughout the sick period» says Fraser.
Then Fraser contacted Programmed Marine, which was legally Dales employer.
First, the company wanted to pay only for the time Dale was on board the rig. And their representative was somewhat surprised when I demanded that they pay full Norwegian wages until Dale was well again.
«It was not easy to get a staffing agency with headquarters in Australia, and their lawyers, to understand that they must comply with the Norwegian wage agreement and pay full pay throughout the sick period. But after some pressure and conviction we got it done» said Fraser Knox.
Dale McAngus is extremely grateful for the job Fraser Knox and Industri Energi have done for him.
«Fraser has been fantastic. Had it not been for him, I would have been financially ruined and probably ended up on the street. Without him and the union assistance, I would have had no chance against the companies’ lawyers. That’s how it works in the UK. The companies would challenge me on all my rights and I would have had to cover my own lawyers fees. I could not afford that» says Dale.
Fraser Knox is convinced that Dale alone would have struggled against the companies’ lawyers. He indicates that the initial dialogue with the company was: “Dale may have even been guilty of causing the accident.”
Fraser states that it has nothing to do with the situation.
«We do not care who’s fault it was. And that an employer can say something like that after a tragic accident is hair-raising. Here it was about taking care of a seriously injured person» says Fraser.
He adds that rig owner Prosafe, who had hired Dale, has made several mistakes in the case, although legally they are not his employer.
«Dale did not get proper HSE training when he got out on the rig. And he lacked training in relation to the job he should do and he was unfamiliar with Norwegian requirements and standards. In addition, the person he replaced was a supervisor, which meant that the crane operator was given additional responsibility. In addition, the lifting operation occurred in a blind zone».
«And, should such large containers be placed in the helideck run off area at the top of the living quarters» states National officer.
Prosafe / Statoil has included a number of recommended measures in its report on the accident. In addition, the case is submitted to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway.
Hope to get home
After several weeks at a hospital in Aberdeen, still without surgery, the British doctors accepted that Dale traveled home to the children in Thailand until the swelling of the foot was gone. There he received medical follow-up from Thai doctors until they recommended to return to the hospital in Aberdeen to operate.
In March, the foot was so much better that he could return to Scotland. This time Wannapha his wife was with him, while her Thai parents were going to care for the kids at home aged seven and eleven years.
The Hospital would not operate and they advised to start rehabilitation with physical therapy.
After two months of rehabilitation, Dale and his wife are still in Aberdeen, while the children are with grandparents in Thailand.
«This situation is very demanding for my family. We want to go back to Thailand and continue rehabilitation and training there. The British doctors assume that the foot will not be good until it has been at least one year and there is no guarantee that the foot will ever be perfectly good again» he says.
Everyone should organize themselves
Fraser Knox believes this case shows how important it is that everyone working in the oil and gas industry, especially temporary employees, joins Industri Energi.
«The proportion of temporary employees in the oil and gas industry is still increasing. Often the temporary only get one trip at a time, and often foreign workers are retrieved through the foreign agency. Many of them are disorganized because they do not know how long they have a job. And often they are so insecure about their employment that they do not dare to organise themselves” says Fraser.
Dale McAngus recommends all his British colleagues to organize.
«All temporary employees foreign or nationals on the NCS should sign up for a Norwegian trade union, preferably Industri Energi. You never know when something can happen and then you need a strong union at your back that takes care of you, I tell all my friends and colleagues» he says.
Fraser Knox adds that being organised is like car insurance.
«You never know when you need it. But to late to join after the event» he says.