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.
- The Offshore Installation (Safety Case) Regulations 1992. – It’s necessary for all mobile and fixed offshore installations which operate in UK waters to have a safety case. This 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. They are also designed to make sure that procedures are in place to ensure fast response from emergency services should fire or explosion happen.
- The Offshore Installation and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995. These are aimed at the safe management of offshore installations
- The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction) Regulations 1996. These look at the safety of both offshore and onshore wells. They also cover the integrity of installations and the overall safety of the offshore working environment.
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. They’ll be required to wear immersion suits and life jackets and they will receive a safety briefing before each flight.
Common Induction Process
All offshore workers in the UK sector of the North Sea industry are required to take the same induction course. They must 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 surprised at how strict health and safety guidelines are for those who work on oil rigs. Rules are so rigidly stuck to that working offshore is one of the safest places to work because of all the safety regulations.
Inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) visit oil platforms regularly. Even seemingly minor accidents like a cut finger, for example, will be vigorously noted. The causes will be investigated to come up with strategies for making the working environment even safer. If there have been any incidents of a more serious nature, the HSE does have the power to prosecute companies. They must abide by the various health and safety regulations applicable to work offshore.