Abstract The offshore industry in the North Sea has gone from a very high risk level for employees some 30–40 years ago, to a low level. The paper reviews the statistics briefly and discusses the implications of the low level. There has from the beginning of the operations been strong focus on emergency preparedness, due to the remoteness of the operations mostly far from shore. But there will always have to be a balance between the focus on preventative safety efforts and the extent of emergency preparedness provisions. This is discussed in detail, based on an extensive evaluation of the adequacy of emergency preparedness provisions recently performed. The main findings are presented, and the robustness and validity of the approach is discussed, together with implications of the rare major accidents.