An interesting article on BBC website on 13 April following the capsize of the Norweigian rig support ship in the North Sea
Recent accident statistics from HSE (excluding helicopter)
2006/07 No fatalities, 7 major injuries
2005/06 One fatality, 28 major injuries
2004/05 No fatalities, 27 serious injuries
That seems pretty good to me given the industry employs 20,000 people
HSE has warned that an increasing number of the floating rigs were now beyond their planned life by as much as 10 years. While there was no question that they were in danger, they were needing increasingly regular maintenance.
Professor Mick Bloor of the University of Glasgow, who has studied the industry, described the North Sea oil rig support vessels as being "the quality end of the shipping industry." But a study he was involved in found the dangers of work at sea were made worse by the long hours and irregular working hours of those in the offshore industry. "That has implications for getting proper sleep and leads to the possibility of fatigue-related problems in what is an already demanding environment," he explained.