Workers wore survival suits and lifejackets

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The Independent Online

As the helicopter began to falter, everyone on board would have gone through the procedures drummed into them in training.

The oil workers would have ensured that the hoods were up on their waterproof, dry survival suits and they were properly zipped up to ensure maximum protection in case they hit the icy seas. They would have all been wearing lifejackets and locator beacons around their wrists. In those last terrifying moments they would have had one hand on the circular release of their four-point harness as they braced themselves for impact.

While the pilots would have had extensive training, every passenger on board would also have done a Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency (BOSIET) course to prepare them for such an event.

Only last year, the offshore oil industry commemorated the 20th anniversary of its worst disaster, the Piper Alpha explosion, which cost 167 lives and led to a major review of safey laws. Two years earlier 45 workers were killed in a helicopter crash and others have perished since.

Today every man or woman heading for the platforms must undergo a three-day survival training programme which takes in helicopter safety, sea survival, fire fighting and first aid. In case of being caught at sea, they are trained to lie on their backs because of the lifejackets and move as little as possible to prevent losing even more heat. The advice is to link together to form a greater rescue target.

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