Enforcement

Under the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (the Regulatory Powers Act), which came into operation 1 October 2014, new provisions relevant to NOPSEMA’s regulatory operations, which are contained in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Compliance Measures) Act 2013 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment Act 2013, came into operation. These provisions include new enforcement powers for NOPSEMA Inspectors.

OHS enforcement decisions

NOPSEMA inspectors are guided by NOPSEMA policy when choosing appropriate enforcement action(s) to obtain a responsible party’s compliance with the legislation.  OHS enforcement action is taken if, in the opinion of the NOPSEMA inspector, it is warranted to address immediate threats to health or safety.

In all enforcement actions, the ultimate intent is to meet the objectives of the relevant legislation. Where enforcement is necessary to achieve compliance, NOPSEMA uses its powers in a transparent, efficient and consistent manner and according to the principles of procedural fairness.

Appeals

There are certain rights of appeal regarding OHS enforcement action taken by a NOPSEMA inspector. These rights of appeal relate to a NOPSEMA inspector’s decision to:

  • issue an OHS improvement notice

  • issue an OHS prohibition notice

  • decide that the responsible person has not taken adequate action to remove the threat to health or safety that caused an OHS prohibition notice to be issued

  • issue a direction not to disturb

  • issue an OHS notice to take possession (removal of plant or sample).

Appeals can also be made when a NOPSEMA inspector makes a decision in relation to a disputed OHS provisional improvement notice (PIN) issued by a health and Safety Representative. A guideline on NOPSEMA Inspector OHS Enforcement Decision Appeals has been prepared to give an overview of the process.

Appeals are made to the reviewing authority Fair Work Commission, and must normally be lodged in accordance with its rules and using its associated Forms.

The Fair Work Commission has two main functions relative to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and the relevant state and Territory equivalents:

  • to rule on any disagreements that arise during consultations to form or vary designated work groups (ref: clause 23 of Schedule 3 to the OPSGGS Act).

  • to hear any appeal against a NOPSEMA inspector’s decision arising from OHS inspections (ref: Clause 80A of Schedule 3 to the OPGGS Act).