New U.K. Offshore Safety Regulations Become Law Today

The Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 become law today. They replace the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1992.

The 2005 Regulations reflect the experience and changes in the offshore oil and gas industry since 1993. They will cut bureaucracy for industry and allow Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors to carry out more planned interventions.

Ian Whewell, acting head of HSE's Offshore Division, said today: "The Safety Case Regulations continue to be the foundation of a safe and sustainable UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The new regulations will build on the successes of the previous version and ensure that the post-Piper Alpha safety regime remains relevant and proportionate to the changing nature of the UK offshore industry. The industry, including workforce representatives, has played an invaluable role in developing the new regulations. HSE believes that they will provide real benefits in terms of reduced bureaucracy, enabling us to increase offshore inspection visits, and extend the role of safety representatives. Guidance on the regulations will be published in April and I would urge duty holders to engage with the new requirements."

Key changes introduced by the 2005 Regulations include:

  • The requirement for duty holders to send an early design notification, instead of a design safety case, to HSE when establishing a new production installation;
  • Duty holders are required to carry out a thorough and fundamental review of their safety cases at least every five years, or as directed by HSE;
  • The present requirement to re-submit safety cases every three years has been removed (inspectors will be checking to see that safety cases are being kept up to date through inspection);
  • New duties require licensees to ensure anyone they appoint as an operator is capable of fulfilling their legal responsibilities for safety;
  • Combined operations safety cases have been replaced by notifications, which do not need HSE acceptance; and
  • The Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations have been amended to extend consultation with safety representatives to reviewing and revising a safety case, as well as preparing one.
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