The Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations represent a major step forward in the regulation of offshore safety. Operating Companies have a duty to conform with a Safety Management System and Safety Case prepared by themselves and which has been accepted by the Health and Safety Executive. This approach moves the UK Offshore Industry away from the prescriptive requirements of the past towards a goal-setting approach supported by non-mandatory Guidance.
To underpin the Safety Case Regulations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposes to enact further offshore specific regulations revoking or replacing existing prescriptive requirements. The new regulations will be expressed, wherever possible, in terms of safety objectives or goals to be achieved, rather than specifying particular precautions. The intention is for these goal-setting regulations to be supported by non-mandatory Guidance to be developed by HSE and Industry.
These aims are in accord with Lord Cullen's recommendations and the Industry takes no exception to them. Nevertheless the Industry has expressed concern that the new Regulations, if not carefully drafted, could undermine the primacy of the Safety Case Regulation rather than support it.
The UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) has played a leading role in informal consultations with HSE and will contribute fully to the debate during the formal consultation phase on these regulations to ensure that they are compatible with and support the Safety Case Regulations which the Industry firmly believes should remain the foundation for improved safety offshore.
Earlier this year, in Geneva, a tripartite meeting of the International Labour Office (ILO) discussed safety issues relating to work on offshore petroleum installations, in particular the lessons learned from Piper Alpha and Lord Cullen's Report. Employer, Trade Union and Regulatory representatives from 15 countries took part. The meeting concluded that the first priority of the ILO was "to promote the adoption on a worldwide basis of the principle of self-regulation based on Safety Management Systems within a framework of goal-setting regulations, and full workforce involvement at national and company level in safety matters in the Offshore Petroleum Industry".