Introduction of the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR)

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Circular No: NP/062/15

 

TO ALL BRANCHES, REGIONAL ORGANISERS, REGIONAL COUNCILS, & COUNCIL OF EXECUTIVES.

 

Our ref: S2/4

 

8th April 2015

 

Dear Colleagues

 

Introduction of the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR)

Further to circular no. NP/0206/13 of 5th August 2013, the Government’s response to the consultation on transposing the Offshore Safety Directive into UK law has been published and is available here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/consultation-summary-report.pdf

The European Commission originally proposed a Regulation to cover offshore safety in the North Sea and elsewhere which would have required the introduction of a completely new safety regime. RMT, Unite, ETF, Oil and Gas UK and others successfully persuaded the EC to pursue their proposals through a more flexible Directive which is less disruptive and, therefore, less of a risk to offshore workers’ safety.

The union responded to the relevant questions in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Department for Energy & Climate Change’s (DECC) joint consultation (RMT response attached) held between 28th July and 24th September last year. The consultation covered the following areas:

  • establishing the competent authority in the UK responsible for safety offshore;
  • changes to existing
    • health and safety
    • administrative mechanisms
    • environmental and
    • licensing legislation required to implement the Directive
  • implementing the national emergency response plans and emergency preparedness  provisions in the Directive;
  • updates to health and safety legislation to address operational lessons and emerging  technologies; and
  • HSE’s offshore oil and gas Approved Codes of Practice.

The proposals are generally acceptable to the union, with the following exceptions:

  • The proposed Offshore Safety Case Regulations 2015 should be more robust to require owners and operators to co-operate in producing standards and guidance on the safe operation of installations.
  • The Offshore Industry Advisory Committee (OIAC) should meet more frequently in recognition of its proposed new responsibility for environmental issues, in addition to the existing offshore safety remit.
  • Enforcement action should be taken against operators or owners who fail to adopt best practice recommendations from the OIAC on safety and environmental policies in the industry.
  • The Step Change forum should be the body that decides how to implement the recommendations for change to environmental and safety practice that flow from the reformed OIAC.
  • The effectiveness of the new arrangements could be undermined by the impact of the Coalition’s cuts to coastguard numbers and the privatisation of maritime Search and Rescue helicopters.

The Offshore Safety Directive Regulator, jointly run by DECC and HSE is now the competent authority, responsible for major hazard and environmental safety regulation of the UK offshore sector.

The union’s main points on the robustness of the safety case regulations and the impact of Government policy on maritime and search and rescue capacity were rejected.

RMT has, however, been invited by HSE and DECC to participate in negotiations over the creation of the tripartite decision making structure required by the Directive. The union will re-state its position in these negotiations that the OIAC should take a more strategic role in safety and environmental matters, with the implementation of decisions it makes undertaken by the Step Change in Safety forum (which RMT has a seat on). The union will also repeat the call for OIAC to meet more regularly every year, in recognition of its new powers.

I will keep you updated with further developments and would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all Branch members.

Yours sincerely

 

Mick Cash

General Secretary