Australia Moves to Strengthen Safety Rules for Offshore Oil Workers

Offshore rig workers

Published Feb 18, 2024 4:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

Australia’s Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King has introduced legislation to strengthen laws governing the safety of people who work on the nation's offshore oil and gas projects. This bill follows a recent review of the offshore safety regime by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. 

Some of the changes under the new legislation, the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024 include widening the scope of roles and training of Health and Safety representatives.

In addition, it improves worker protection against discrimination and coercion. Another significant proposal is clarifying the definition of health in Australia’s offshore legislation to include physical and psychological health. Further, the law seeks to improve health and safety rules for diving operations and dive vessels.

“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.

Several labor groups including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have welcomed the new safety legislation. MUA said that for a long time, Australian offshore workers have the least health and safety rights and protections of any group of workers in the country, despite the fact that they work in one of the highest-risk industries.

“The new legislation introduced last week begins the task of addressing these decades-long problems, but we are keen to see further reform and restoration of maritime standards especially on floating petroleum facilities,” said Adrian Evans, MUA’s National Assistant Secretary.