Statistics reveal that more than 20,000 people are employed by the UK offshore industry and are potentially exposed to various occupational health risks.
Consequences of such related ill health are potentially devastating for individuals and their families, with a long term impact on quality of life and financial security.
All offshore employers have a legal duty to protect workers’ health. The main responsibility for controlling risks lies with those whose operations create them, so the owner or operator of an installation has responsibilities to everyone working on the installation.
Working in the offshore oil and gas industry can involve exposure to a wide range of hazardous substances, radiations, noise, vibration, extremes of heat and cold and ergonomic hazards. All have the potential to harm the health of workers, immediately or in later life.
The Law Regarding Offshore Employees’ Health and Safety
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) are responsible for different aspects of the law applied to offshore oil and gas.
HSE and MCA are responsible for regulating health and safety while MAIB is responsible for investigating accidents to or on board all UK vessels and other vessels within UK territorial waters.
However, the actual achievement of safety is the responsibility of all those who work offshore and in maritime activities. So if you work offshore, whether on a vessel or an installation, you have a responsibility to contribute towards a safe and healthy place to work.
- MCA enforces maritime health and safety law, which covers the operation of ships worldwide
- HSE enforces health and safety law applying to offshore installations and associated activities
Those responsible for offshore activities, such as installation operators and owners and other employers of people who work offshore – such as contractors – have primary legal duties to ensure the health and safety of offshore workers and all who are affected by their activities.
In particular, on an offshore installation the operator or owner will set policy, as well as provide the main resources for health and safety and co-ordinate management of the operation.
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