Improving safety for the offshore resources sector workforce

The Australian Government is strengthening safety legislation to better protect people who work on offshore oil and gas projects in Commonwealth waters.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King has introduced legislation to parliament to implement the changes, which follows a review of the offshore safety regime by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

“Worker health and safety is a top priority for the Australian government and our resources sector,” Minister King said. “Nothing is more important than ensuring that every worker can come home safely at the end of a swing.

“The government will always support a strong and resilient resources sector. Together, we have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of the men and women who work on offshore projects.”

Minister King said the changes would implement the outcomes of the safety review and better align provisions of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 with Commonwealth work health and safety laws.

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024 will:

  • Strengthen the role and training of Health and Safety Representatives;
  • Allow Health and Safety Representatives to request a review of safety management documents; 
  • Improve worker protection against discrimination and coercion; 
  • Clarify the definition of health in Australia’s offshore legislation to include physical and psychological health;
  • Improve health and safety rules for diving operations and dive vessels; and
  • Strengthen and simplify reporting requirements for serious injury notifications.

“Offshore safety rules and regulations are not set and forget – the Government will continue to review and update the rules and legislation for the health and safety of workers in offshore industries,” Minister King said.

“The Government will shortly commence a new offshore safety review to identify further opportunities to harmonise the offshore petroleum safety regime with our national Work Health and Safety laws.”

The Government has committed $12 million to review Australia’s offshore environmental management framework to ensure our regulatory system is fit for purpose for a decarbonising economy. 

Minister King said the legislation introduced today proposes additional technical amendments that enable the Australian Government to adopt future policy recommendations from the offshore environmental management review. 

As part of the review, the Australian Government released a discussion paper on 12 January 2024 to seek views from the community on how to clarify the consultation framework under Australia’s offshore environmental management framework. 

Minister King said this legislation represents the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to improve occupational health and safety outcomes for Australia’s offshore resources sector workforce.