Make offshore industries safe: Australian Unions

The ACTU today called for urgent reforms to Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry to improve safety and stop us falling even further behind international best practice.


In a new report Offshore OHS – Protecting Our Oil & Gas Workers, the ACTU outlines nine recommendations for Occupational Health and Safety law reform.


The ACTU strongly urges the Australian Government, Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and relevant authorities to embrace world’s best practice for offshore Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation by adopting specific provisions of the Model Act and harmonising OHS laws governing offshore industries with those governing onshore industries.


The recommendations of this report are not contentious; we simply argue the existing OHS laws which apply to Victorian and South Australian onshore industries should be extended to cover offshore operations.


The relevant legislation – the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPPGS Act) – fails to align with the principle features of all other modern Australian health and safety regimes covering high risk industries; every person and entity with the capacity to control workplace safety should be thoroughly consulted and protected under comprehensive legislation.


Key recommendations include:

-        Model Work Health and Safety regulations should be extended throughout the offshore oil and gas industry. Existing OHS laws governing offshore industries are deficient when compared to laws governing onshore industries.

-        The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) must support comprehensive and consistent training of all offshore Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs).

-        The principle of Tripartitism – that Government, workers and employers optimise workplace health and safety through collaborative regulation – must be supported through the nomination of a union official to act as a workers’ representative to the NOPSEMA board.


The following can be attributed to ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick:

“Offshore safety legislation must be brought into line with national OHS standards – there is no justification for lower standards of protections for offshore workers.” 


“Governments and regulatory bodies must answer the question – why is the safety of offshore oil and gas workers treated differently to their onshore colleagues?”


“Australian Unions call on all Governments to take notice of these recommendations, implement the reforms and stop us from sliding further behind the rest of the world.”