The offshore installations (safety representatives and safety committee) regulations 1989



1  This SPC provides information on interpretation and enforcement of the Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989. It should be read in conjunction with the guidance booklet L110. See also OC 111/3 on enforcement of consultation regulations.


2  These regulations were made under the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971. They allow the workforce on an offshore installation to elect safety representatives from among themselves, and confers on those functions and powers in relation to the health and safety of the workforce. They also provide for time off with pay for safety representatives so they can perform these functions and undergo relevant training.

3  Dutyholders have to establish safety committees in accordance with the regulations. The functions include keeping under review health and safety on the installation and making appropriate representations and recommendations to the installation manager.

Application (regulation 3)

4  The regulations apply on an installation which normally has people onboard and is at its working location. They do not apply to installations which normally have no persons onboard, where there is no planned overnight occupancy and the operation of the installation does not rely on daily visits. Implementation of a suitable arrangement on such platforms, and based on these requirements, would be considered good practice and should be encouraged.

5  The offshore regulations do not apply to a stacked installation or to its crew. However either the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1997 or the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 may apply to non-crew members, such as contractors working on the installation. Any queries should be referred to FOD.


6  The regulations are a key element in the offshore regime. While the primary responsibility for health and safety is with operators, owners and employers, all members of the workforce have a part to play. The regulations encourage the workforce to do this.

7  It is important that there is a consistent approach to enforcement of the regulations. If prosecution is being considered the legal and operational strategy team should be consulted.

8 It has been identified that with changes to the staffing arrangements within the industry since the drafting of the original regulations, leading to smaller crews and contractor workforces, difficulties in implementing some aspects of the regulations may be encountered by some duty holders. In these circumstances enforcement decisions and application of the EMM should take account of the intent of the regulations and the efforts being made by the dutyholder to comply with the spirit of the requirements.


9  The Mineral Workings Act provides for exemption from the requirements of the regulations. The circumstances which justify exemption are likely to be few and will need close examination. See guidance on Exemptions.

Functions of a safety representative (regulation 16)

10  A safety representative has no legal duties, but does have functions which they are expected to perform, as listed in this regulation. There are no functions for welfare. The Workforce Involvement Group (WIG) provides support to the industry in this area and visiting their website for current guidance and examples of best practice should be promoted.

Powers of safety representatives (regulation 17)

11  A safety representative has powers to enable them to fulfil the functions under regulation 16. Inspectors should encourage the involvement of safety representatives in investigations of incidents and in periodic inspections.

Documents (regulations 18, 18A)

12  Safety representatives are entitled to see and be supplied with copies of any document legally required to be held on the installation which relates to the occupational health and safety at work of the workforce. An exception is the health record of an individual.

13 Inspectors should examine how these requirements work in practice and whether the information supplied is sufficiently comprehensive and suitable for their needs.

Consultation regarding safety cases (regulation 23(2)(c)(1))

14  This regulation was amended by the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 to include consultation regarding revision or review of safety cases. Dutyholders must include a summary in their safety cases of how safety representatives were consulted with regard to the revision, review or preparation of the case.

15  Workforce involvement is an important part of HSE strategy for the offshore industry, and has the support of both industry and unions. Inspectors should check that the process is working satisfactorily. It has been identified that consultation regarding changes to safety cases, as well as other changes effecting health and safety, has not always been carried out effectively. The practices of dutyholders to facilitate effective consultation with safety representatives should be kept under review by inspectors.

Time off (regulation 26)

16  Safety representatives are entitled to time off, without loss of pay, during normal work to perform their functions and undertake training. Most training is undertaken in the representative's own time while on field break, where the employer and employee have come to an arrangement for payment. While this may be appropriate in any given circumstances, in the event of dispute the legal position is that the employer is required to permit the safety representative to undertake the training required under regulation 27 during 'time off from his work on the offshore installation'. Time off during working hours to perform functions has been identified as an area of potential concern. Inspection should ensure adequate time is being granted, particularly in relation to contractors where lack of available cover may limit the potential for safety representative involvement.

Training (regulation 27)

17  The dutyholder, not the employer, is required to ensure that safety representatives are trained in their functions and that the costs of the training, including travel and subsistence, are not borne by the safety representative. In practice the costs are borne either by the dutyholder or by the employer. Training is usually undertaken by the TUC or OPITO. There may be subtle differences between the arrangements for staff and contractor safety representatives. Attention should be paid to ensure disparities are not evident which could discourage contractors from becoming safety representatives.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from the OSD Legal and Operational Strategy team 01224 252603.

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Updated 2020-12-09