A remote release crane hook system designed to improve safety in the oil and gas industry has won an award from the business development agency that helped fund its development.

Hamilton Safety Enhanced (HSE) Tools, based in Aberdeen, Scotland, was named winner of the Sir Ian Wood Award for Innovation, run by Scottish Enterprise Grampian.

HSE Tools was incorporated in January 1999 to provide specialised safety related equipment, products and services to the oil and gas industries. Its Centralised Offset Lightweight Release System was developed in response to loading bay safety concerns among oil operators and contractors.

The release system, which can operate with loads ranging from 1t to 500t, ejects the load ring by radio remote control from up to 200m away, eliminating the need for workers to enter the danger zone.

According to statistics produced by the Offshore Crane Forum, more than 80% of crane related accidents happen when the load is set down and workers come in to release the hook.

The location of the control mechanism and housing on the elongated support, means that the control unit takes no substantial part in bearing the weight of the load, allowing the control unit to be relatively small and up to six times lighter than other solutions.

The prototype has been tested at Sparrows Offshore Services’ training centre in Aberdeen.

HSE Tools has signed a joint venture agreement with the Norwegian Handling & Safety Company to market the system in Norway. Demonstrations have been requested from 14 UK and Norwegian oil and gas contractors and HSE Tools believes that there are market opportunities for sale or rental of the system in other industry sectors, including construction, harbour authorities, nuclear, petrochemicals, paper mills, military and shipbuilding. Export opportunities have also been identified in Australian, Canada and the USA.

HSE Tools has also developed a non-snagging, remote release crane hook (patent pending) for use with the system.