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Offshore health and safety law

Getting started

All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Health and safety is about stopping you getting hurt at work or ill through work. The operator or owner of any offshore installation you work on, including your employer, are responsible for your health and safety. However, you have responsibilities too.

What operators/owners must do

  • Prepare a safety case that demonstrates they have the ability and means to control major accident risks effectively and have it accepted by HSE.
  • Consult the installation's safety representatives in the preparation, revision or review of the safety case.
  • Operate the installation in compliance with the arrangements described in the current safety case.
  • Implement effective measures to prevent uncontrolled releases of flammable or explosive substances.
  • Maintain the integrity of the installation’s structure, process plant, temporary refuge and all other equipment.
  • Maintain the integrity of the wells and the pipelines throughout their lifecycle (this applies to well operators and pipeline operators).
  • Prepare a plan for dealing with an emergency should one occur.

What employers must do

  • Co-operate with the operator/owner of the installation, other employers and other people to ensure the health and safety of those on board the installation and others working in connection with it.
  • Carry out an assessment of risks that you are exposed to at work and implement control measures.
  • Provide you with any health and safety training you need during your working time, free of charge. If it is necessary to arrange training outside your normal hours, this should be treated as an extension of time at work.
  • Provide insurance that covers you in case you get hurt at work or become ill through work.

What you must do

  • Co-operate with the offshore installation manager and others to ensure the health and safety of those on board the installation and those woking in connection with it.
  • Follow the information, instruction and training you have received for working offshore and responding to an emergency should one occur.
  • Take reasonable care of your own and other people's health and safety.
  • Tell your employer, supervisor or safety representative if you think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.

If there's a problem

  • If you are worried about health and safety in your workplace, talk to your employer, supervisor or health and safety representative. If you are still dissatisfied, you should raise the matter directly with the offshore installation manager.
  • You can also look at our website for general information about health and safety at work and particular information about offshore safety.
  • If, after telling someone, you are still concerned, you can phone HSE’s Energy Division (01224 252500 between 8.30 and 17.00 Monday to Friday) and ask to speak to an inspector. You do not have to give your name. Outside office hours, in exceptional circumstances, you can phone 0151 922 9235.

Regulating the oil and gas industry

HSE is responsible for regulating the risks to health and safety arising from work activities in the offshore industry on the UK continental shelf. To do this, along with general health and safety law, HSE uses the following main legislation to regulate the oil and gas industry:

Name of Regulation / Act Year S.I. no. Guidance
Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive) (Safety Case etc) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/398)  2015 398 L154
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) Order 2013 (SI 2013/240)  2013 240 Guidance on the application of health and safety law offshore 
Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 (S.I. 2005/3117)  2005 3117 L30
Diving at Work Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997/2776)  1997 2776 L103, L104, L105, L106, L107
Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (S.I. 1996/913)  1996 913 L84
Pipelines Safety Regulations  1996 825 L82 
Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/738)  1995 738 L70
Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/743)  1995 743 L65
Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/2038)  1995 2038 L72
Offshore Safety (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 1993 (S.I. 1993/1823)  1993 1823 No specific guidance available
Offshore Safety Act 1992 (c 15)  1992 N/A No specific guidance available
Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/971)  1989 971 L110
Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (First-Aid) Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/1671)  1989 1671 L123
Updated 2016-02-10