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Piper Alpha survivor Rae to lead Step Change in Safety

Aberdonian says role is ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to shape industry culture

The Aberdeen-based Step Change in Safety organisation has appointed Steve Rae, a survivor of the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, as its new executive director.

An Aberdonian, Rae has spent more than 35 years in the industry, beginning his career in the early-1980s as an offshore technician in the North Sea.

He replaces Les Linklater.

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Rae said his escape from the explosion and fire on Piper Alpha on the night of 6 July 1988 that killed 167 left him with an unquenchable desire to make a positive change in the safety culture of the oil and gas industry.

He has held several senior positions in the UK, US and Brazil during his career with companies including Noble Drilling, Seawell Americas and Archer. He currently works for Well-Safe Solutions.

Rae said: “Words cannot express how honoured I feel to have been appointed as the executive director of Step Change in Safety. For me, the role presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a significant part in shaping the future safety culture in our industry. Those who know me personally, or have heard me talk, will appreciate how much this means to me.

“I look forward to taking up my new position in July and until such time I will continue to give my current employer, Well-Safe Solutions, my full attention during this exciting part of their journey.”

Rae’s association with Step Change dates back to 2007 when he was a member of the leadership team. He has also held roles at skills body Opito and the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

He is also chairman of the Pound for Piper charity trust which provides support towards the up-keep of the North Sea Memorial Rose Gardens and the Piper Alpha monument located in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park.

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Bob Fennell, member of the Step Change in Safety Board and co-chair of the leadership team said: “For me, Steve’s appointment was the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make as he is perfect for the role. He has an established industry presence and is a great orator and business leader. Most importantly, Steve genuinely wants to make the UK oil and gas industry a safer place to work for its workforce.”

Established in 1997, Step Change was originally a three-year initiative on safety collaboration before it grew into a tripartite organisation with growing influence on health and safety issues that was made a legal subsidiary of Oil & Gas UK in 2007.

Step Change in Safety is now an independent organisation, wholly owned by its member organisations and governed by its own board of directors.

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