The OHS regime for offshore petroleum operations is set out by Schedule 3 to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and its associated regulations for Commonwealth waters. Similar provisions apply in designated coastal waters where States and the Northern Territory have made legislation that mirrors Commonwealth legislation. In general, references to regulatory requirements in the material provided below are in relation to Commonwealth legislation.

The general OHS duty that relates to the operator of a facility is the requirement that the operator must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that a facility and its activities are safe and without risk to health. Schedule 3 also imposes duties on a range of other parties including employers, manufacturers and members of the workforce. Part 3 of Schedule 3 deals with workplace arrangements, including provisions related to health and safety representatives (HSRs).

Activities and facilities

NOPSEMA's functions include promotion of occupational health and safety of persons engaged in offshore petroleum operations. These operations are: diving operations or operations at a facility. Certain vessels or structures are defined as facilities (refer to guideline in sidebar). Licensed pipelines are also facilities. The categories of activities that cause relevant vessels or structures to be defined as facilities are:

  1. recovery, processing, storage and offloading of petroleum, or any combination of these activities;

  2. provision of accommodation for persons at another facility, whether or not connected by walkway;

  3. drilling or servicing a petroleum well, or doing any work associated with drilling or servicing;

  4. laying of pipes for petroleum, including any manufacturing of such pipes, or doing work on existing pipes;

  5. erection, dismantling or decommissioning of a vessel or structure of any of the above types; and

  6. any other activity related to offshore petroleum that is prescribed.

The facility definition includes a facility being constructed or installed and an associated offshore place (that being an offshore place near the facility where activities relating to the facility occur). The facility definition also includes a pipeline subject to a pipeline licence, together with any associated wells, associated plant and equipment, and any pipe or system of pipes through which petroleum is conveyed from that well to that pipeline.

For detailed facility definitions see the legislation.