Health and safety


A summary of the law applying to occupational health and safety (OHS) in offshore petroleum operations may be found in the document Information paper - Offshore OHS legislative framework (PDF 61KB).

NOPSA was legally established by amendments that were made to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 of the Commonwealth (the PSLA 1967) by the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Amendment Act 2003. Specifically, Part IIIC was added to the PSLA 1967 to establish NOPSA, set out its governance arrangements, and define its functions in relation to petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters. The Offshore Petroleum Act 2006 (OPA 2006) replaced the PSLA 1967 and the OPA 2006 was subsequently replaced by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act).

Schedule 3 to the Act

Schedule 3 to the OPGGS Act 2006 establishes a modern OHS regime for petroleum and greenhouse gas activities at facilities (including pipelines) located in Commonwealth waters. The main features of the regime are:

  1. Duties of Care
    Specific categories of persons (operators, employers, etc) who are involved in offshore activities at facilities are required to "take all reasonably practicable steps" to protect the health and safety of the facility workforce and of any other persons who may be affected.

  2. Consultation Provisions
    Mechanisms are set out that will enable effective consultation between each facility operator, relevant employers and the workforce regarding OHS.

  3. Powers of inspectors
    NOPSEMA's OHS inspectors are granted powers to enter offshore facilities or other relevant premises, conduct inspections, interview people, seize evidence and otherwise take action to ensure compliance by parties with legal obligations.


Section 638 of the OPGGS Act 2006 defines the laws that NOPSEMA and its OHS inspectors will administer and enforce in Commonwealth waters. These laws include Schedule 3 to the OPGGS Act 2006, and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety) Regulations 2009, and Part 5 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations.

State and Northern Territory laws

The NOPSEMA administered State and Northern Territory OHS laws include:

Victoria: Schedule 3 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2010. OHS related regulations are located within the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage regulations 2011.

Note: Changes made to the OPGGS Act from 1 January 2012 required states and the NT to confer structural (well) integrity on NOPSEMA if they wished to continue to confer on NOPSEMA the regulation of OHS in their coastal waters under their Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Amendments Act 1982. As at 1 January 2013 only Victoria has validly conferred structural (well) integrity functions in designated coastal waters on NOPSEMA and is therefore the only State or Territory to have validly conferred OHS functions on NOPSEMA. The other States’ and the Northern Territory’s conferrals of OHS functions on NOPSEMA have lapsed as they are yet to validly confer structural (well) integrity functions on NOPSEMA.