Engineering a reliable helideck safety net: Q&A with Dan Burman

Engineering a reliable helideck safety net: Q&A with Dan Burman

Dropsafe recently launched its Helideck Perimeter Safety Net to support offshore operators as they continue to improve the safety of their assets. We sat down with Dan to discuss what went into developing the new Dropsafe Helideck Net, and what operators should look for when seeking to upgrade their helideck safety solutions.


Hi Dan, thanks for talking to us today! To kick off, could you outline the current state of the market for helideck safety nets?

My pleasure.

The wider offshore market has been challenging due to the effects of the pandemic over the last year. As part of that, we’ve seen restrictions on movement and limitations on the safe transfer of personnel on and off platforms globally.

In this context, a rig’s helideck is its lifeline. It supports routine rotations or emergency evacuations of personnel and facilitates the movement of critical supplies. It’s therefore vital to ensure its safe, uninterrupted operation and Helideck Nets are one of the critical systems that enable this.

As ever, safety is paramount. However, with increased budget pressures, customers are focusing on sustainable, long-term solutions that minimise downtime during installation, but are also easy to regularly inspect and maintain certification. Striking this balance gives the customer a cost-effective solution over the lifetime of the Helideck Net.

And this is where the Dropsafe system comes in.

There are a number of global players in the helideck perimeter net space, some providing more robust solutions than others. While Dropsafe has long set a benchmark in the construction of high-quality safety solutions for offshore assets, we have seen some examples where DIY solutions were used that were not fit for purpose.


Could you give some examples of makeshift solutions you’ve seen in use?

It’s important to stress that most major global operators and contractors are following best practice guidance. However, in some situations, we’ve seen chain link fencing used, jerry rigged on the asset to cover helideck perimeter structures. Often, the metal mesh is covered with a green (or opaque) plastic coating obscuring any underlying corrosion. We’ve also seen synthetic mesh and ropes deployed, which can rot and have a limited-service life. Makeshift solutions are unlikely to come with a warranty, appropriate testing or product liability insurance.


Are these DIY solutions able to withstand the environmental conditions on offshore rigs?

No. Extreme weather, UV exposure, salt-water, and bird guano can affect and corrode helideck perimeter structures. This is why 316 stainless steel, which we use for all Dropsafe Net products, is the gold standard for offshore safety solutions.


So where did Dropsafe see an opportunity to support offshore operators with helideck safety?

We were approached by customers who know our reputation for high-quality, engineered products that exceed industry standards. They asked if we could develop a reliable, longer-term perimeter net solution to boost safety on their helidecks.

After talking to other industry experts, we found that issues with quality and lead time for helideck perimeter safety nets were common. We have a strong track record in developing products which are fast and easy to install, and with the Dropsafe Helideck Perimeter Safety Net, our philosophy and approach was no different.


Did that engagement with industry experts continue throughout the R&D process for the Dropsafe Helideck Perimeter Safety Net?

Often, our customers are the experts, and we started with them! We also ensured that helideck specialists were consulted throughout the entire R&D process, to understand the leading global helideck safety and performance requirements such as those stipulated by OGUK and CAP 437. We set out to exceed current standards, and deliver a future-proof, rigorously tested product.

Understanding how helideck nets are typically inspected and treated over time was also crucial. Some key takeaways that our customers were keen to see include:

  • The ability and flexibility to self-install or appoint their preferred third-party service provider without voiding the warranty.
  • To be able to replace sections at sea.
  • Avoiding being forced into long-term service & maintenance contracts by the manufacturer.


What are your key recommendations for offshore operators seeking to ensure long-term value from their helideck net?

We understand the importance for offshore assets to maximise efficiency and minimise downtime while ensuring costs are kept under control. They will be considering several key factors to deliver on this. Our recommendations are as follows:

Safety – Choose a robust solution from a reputable and trusted supplier whose products you already know can ensure reliable performance over the long-term.

Exceeds current requirements – Ensure that your chosen solution is proven to perform higher than minimum standards from industry bodies such as OGUK, CAP 437 and DNV GL. Regulations evolve over time and by taking steps to uphold the highest standards, you can future-proof safety solutions installed on your assets.

Installation costs – Avoid solutions that require lengthy installation time or systems that the manufacturer must install. These will increase overall expenditure and helideck downtime. They can also add a layer of complexity and reduce the customer’s control over the installation timing and process.

Easy inspection – Avoid being tied into a restrictive long-term service agreement by choosing a stainless-steel solution that can be easily inspected visually by the Helideck Landing Officer or third-party Inspectors. Corrosion can be hidden in solutions which comprise multiple layers of plastic or synthetic fibre, which typically require regular and independent laboratory testing.

Lead times – Consider how long it will take from placing an order to having the solution installed. The Dropsafe Helideck Perimeter Safety Net is made in-house to ensure fast production and delivery times.

Designed for the asset – Select a made to measure, modular system to guarantee ease of installation and maximum safety, whatever the dimensions of your helideck.


Thanks for the interesting discussion, Dan – we look forward to catching up again in future.

To request more information about how Dropsafe can advise you and learn more about the Dropsafe Helideck Perimeter Safety Net, contact us at