COVID-19 industry preparedness

News announcement - Published 20 March, 2020

In response to the emerging COVID-19 issue NOPSEMA wrote to all offshore petroleum facility operators, requiring them to review their infectious disease management plans to ensure that they have arrangements in place for reducing the health risks to the Australian offshore petroleum industry workforce. This was followed up by NOPSEMA conducting a survey of all facility operators to establish what they were actually doing to manage the health of offshore workers with respect to the COVID-19 risk. The primary aims were to gain an assurance on behalf of the Australian community that the Australian offshore petroleum industry has systems in place, and has commenced implementing those arrangements, to manage health risks to their workforce and to enable best practices to be identified and shared across industry.

NOPSEMA analysed the responses of the survey and established that in most cases, implementation of plans was well developed and that some of the risk reduction measures used by some facility operators may be more effective if these were applied more widely across industry. NOPSEMA immediately provided this analysis to industry for facility operators to learn from in the context of their current arrangements. Opportunities were identified with some facility operator plans and these were followed up by NOPSEMA.

NOPSEMA has published this survey as a means of encouraging consistent and best practice across the industry, to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19, and to limit opportunities for exposure among the offshore workforce. In addition to assisting the Australian workforce, the information has been shared with the international offshore industry with a view to developing global responses to this global health issue.

Facility operators are encouraged to review the information and identify opportunities to improve their current systems and practices.

Members of the offshore workforce and their Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are encouraged to use the information as a prompt to review current practice on their facilities and to encourage facility management to adopt better practice where possible.

NOPSEMA continues to update the examples of ‘better practice’ in this survey based on learnings from our COVID-19 inspections of our Australian offshore petroleum industry, and from information gathered from other regulators (including international regulators).

The survey and interim guidance that may lead to best practice can be viewed here and can also be found on the industry body, Safer Together’s website.