MORE injuries occurred on projects offshore Australia in 2015 than in 2014, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) said – ending a four-year downtrend in the area.

While no fatalities were reported on offshore facilities in 2015, there were 12 serious injuries, compared to nine in 2014, and 85 other injuries – up 49 per cent on the 57 recorded the previous year.

Despite the increase, the rate of serious injuries is still the second lowest recorded since 2005, with the basic causes of most accidents down to human engineering.

This also comes as the total number of hours reported to have been worked offshore was up to 15.4 million, from 14.3 million in 2014.

Of the five serious injuries recorded, four involved fractures caused either by falls or by the individuals being hit by moving objects.

The fifth was a serious laceration caused by stepping on an object.

Wounds and lacerations made up four of the seven lost time injuries requiring more than three days off work, while five of the seven injuries were made to hands and three were caused by being trapped by moving objects.

Of all the 85 injuries recorded by NOPSEMA in 2015, 36% were wounds and amputations, and 23% were musculoskeletal, systemic or an infectious disease.

A total of 35% of reported injuries were to a worker’s upper limbs and 29% were to either their head or their neck.

NOPSEMA chief executive Stuart Smith said the data showed that there were still areas of concern in the industry’s injury rate.

“Whilst the majority of these injuries were medical treatment or alternative duties injuries, they are concerning nonetheless, and NOPSEMA will continue to monitor and inspect offshore facilities to ensure that the industry is making the safety of its workforce a top priority,” he said.

Mr Smith said the industry was continuing efforts to maintain a high standard of safety and environmental management processes despite falling oil and gas prices.

After three consecutive years of increases, uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases fell 28% in 2015 compared to 2014 – down from 25 to 18.

The number of reportable environmental incidents also fell to 13, down 41% on the previous year, with eight of these being hydrocarbon vapour or petroleum liquid releases.

“These results are encouraging as NOPSEMA has consistently called on industry to reduce the number and volume of uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases,” Mr Smith said.

Ten fires and explosions occurred in 2015 – seven of which were attributed to equipment difficulties, with all but one detected visually.

In 2015 NOPSEMA conducted 195 inspections, covering a total of 208 facilities, titles and petroleum activities.

This is the highest number of inspections carried out by NOPSEMA to date and a 34% increase on the 146 inspections undertaken in 2014.

While NOPSEMA said no accident or dangerous occurrence in 2015 warranted a major investigation, 20 were investigated as a priority – three of which were related to injuries and another 10 related to dropped objects and lifting operations.