Work health and safety of workers in the offshore petroleum industry

Petrol Occupational health and safety Australia
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The offshore petroleum industry is an important contributor to the Australian economy and national job creation. In 2016-17, the broader industry contributed $28.5 billion to the national accounts. In the same year, the number of people employed in the sector was 20,000.

The industry is also widely recognised as inherently highly hazardous due to its technical complexity, geographic remoteness and the volatile nature of its product stream.

From a historical perspective, the safety regulation of the industry globally was significantly influenced by the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea which resulted in 167 deaths and substantial financial impacts to the UK industry and Government. Over time, the regulatory response to Piper Alpha, as well as two major incidents in the Australian offshore petroleum industry, lead in 2012 to the establishment of National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

According to NOPSEMA, since its establishment, no fatality or major accident event has occurred and there has been a record low rate for offshore accidents achieved for a full year in 2016 with no serious injuries reported.

Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that an effective work health and safety (WHS) regime, which promotes continuous improvement of safety performance, is a vital contributor to the future success of the offshore petroleum industry.

Chapter 2 provides background on the role and operation of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), as well as information on the core underpinnings of Australia's offshore occupational health and safety regime.

Chapter 3 turns to matters relating to the adequacy of WHS rights and protections for offshore workers.

Chapter 4 examines the effectiveness of NOPSEMA as a regulator.

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