There can be fewer workplaces which could be deemed to be as ‘high risk’ in terms of health and safety than working on an oil rig. Thankfully, due to the stringent regulations in place and the expertise of the companies who are involved in the offshore industry, major catastrophes are few and far between.
Offshore Safety Regulations
Because of the many potential hazards that could be faced when working on an oil rig, there are 4 sets of UK regulations which are applicable to this particular sector. They are:
- The Offshore Installation (Safety Case) Regulations 1992 – here it’s necessary for all mobile and fixed offshore installations which operate in UK waters to have a safety case which requires that all safety critical elements on installations must be approved by the Health and Safety Executive
- The Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 – these are aimed at protecting offshore workers from fire and explosions and for making sure that the proper procedures are in place to ensure a rapid response from the emergency services should fire or explosion occur
- The Offshore Installation and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995 – which is aimed at the safe management of offshore installations
- The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 – which looks at the safety of both offshore and onshore wells, the integrity of installations and the overall safety of the offshore working environment
In addition, the offshore industry also has to abide by the legislation contained in the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, the Noise at Work Regulations 1989 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999.
Getting to an Installation
Mostly, workers will travel to an oil platform by helicopter. Even here, they’ll be required to wear immersion suits and life jackets and they will also receive a safety briefing before each flight, much as in the way we all do when we travel by plane.
Common Induction Process
Everybody who works offshore within the UK sector of the North Sea offshore industry is required to undertake this induction course. They must additionally have a valid offshore medical certificate and complete the Basic Safety Induction & Emergency Training programme, known as BOSIET. This will train them in areas such as helicopter escape, personal survival, the use of life crafts, first aid post evacuation, fire fighting and how to use breathing apparatus etc.
There will be other regulations in place depending on the nature of the job. For example, you might be working at height as an abseiler inspecting rigs so the usual regulations concerning working at height would also need to be adhered to.
You might be amazed to discover just how serious health and safety issues are to those who operate and work on oil rigs so much so that rules are so stringently adhered to that working offshore is probably one of the safest places to work these days because of all the safety regulations and procedures that have been put into place. Inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) visit oil platforms regularly and even seemingly minor accidents like a cut finger, for example, will be vigorously noted and the causes investigated to come up with strategies for making the working environment even safer. Obviously, if there have been any incidents of a more serious nature, the HSE does have the power to prosecute companies if they have failed to abide by the various health and safety regulations applicable to work offshore.