A Guide to Offshore Safety

Offshore safety is necessary for many organizations and industries. In this guide, learn what it is, who regulates it, who needs to practice it, and how you can practice offshore safety in your organization.

Offshore structure

What is Offshore Safety?

In the natural gas and oil industry, safety is a number one priority. Not following safety protocols and acting carelessly can lead to incidents that put the environment, your employees, and the entire organization at risk. Offshore safety includes a set of best practices and guidelines for organizations to follow when working at sea to ensure everyone’s safety and that all risks are kept at a minimum.

While there are many industries that operate at sea, offshore safety specifically focuses on the oil and natural gas industry. Accidents and failure to follow safety guidelines can lead to severe environmental damage and put your workers in danger. That’s why offshore safety is highly emphasized in these industries.

Who Regulates Offshore Safety?

There are a set of federal regulations in place to enhance offshore safety for drilling oil rigs at sea. The agency in charge of regulating offshore safety is the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Currently, they are responsible for regulating offshore gas and oil, which includes offshore safety.

The goal of this bureau is to ensure that all offshore oil and gas practices are compliant with federal regulations designed to create a safe and fair working environment. They are also in charge of ensuring that the environmental impact of these practices doesn’t exceed what is allowed by the government.

Consequences of Not Following Offshore Safety

When organizations are found not complying or violating offshore safety regulations, the result is a hefty fine and civil penalties. Typically, the fines range from $46,000 to $48,000 for every day that an organization is found violating the regulations. Because of this, organizations are highly encouraged to follow all offshore safety rules and regulations. On top of ensuring compliance, abiding by these regulations puts your employees and organization in a safer working environment.

Who Needs to Practice This?

Offshore safety primarily applies to the oil and natural gas industry. Since there are so many variables to consider when working at an oil rig at sea, safety needs to be a top priority. This is why all organizations in this industry are required to abide by the relevant safety rules and regulations. This is not only for compliance but also ensures that all your workers are in a safe environment where their health and safety aren’t placed at unnecessary risk.

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Safety Guidelines for Offshore Workers

Offshore safety can be a complex topic with a very wide scope. This is why practicing offshore safety can look different for every organization. However, there are some aspects of offshore safety that you need to practice if you work in the oil and gas industry. Some of these aspects include:

Safety Training

Firstly, you have to make sure that everybody on board understands your organization’s safety rules, regulations, and practices. Instilling a culture of safety in your organization is key to keeping risks and accidents down to a minimum. That’s why a major aspect of offshore safety is requiring all your employees to go through the appropriate safety training for their occupation.

It’s important to undergo safety training before being put in the field. That way, the risk of accidents is kept down to the bare minimum, and you’re sure that employees go through their day in accordance with safety regulations.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Another aspect of offshore safety is ensuring that everyone working in high-risk areas wears PPE. Protective equipment like hard hats, steel-toe boots, high-visibility vests, gloves, goggles, and face masks are important when working in the oil and gas industry. These pieces of equipment provide an extra safety layer for your employees and can be a huge help in reducing the damages caused by accidents and incidents in the workplace.

Incident Reporting

A major part of practicing offshore safety includes reporting any incidents found on-site. When employees regularly flag any issues they spot, it will be easier for the team to get on top of the issue and start applying a solution.
So, when working in this industry, it’s important to have an efficient and useful reporting system so that all issues are solved as soon as they are found.

Maintenance & Housekeeping

Keeping the hallways and other facilities on-site as clean as possible is very important for offshore safety. This protects workers from slipping and ensures that everything is always in order.

Housekeeping on an oil rig can involve putting things back in their proper storage location, not blocking exits and entrances, and even sweeping up and washing off any dirt you find.

Regular Inspection of Equipment and Areas

If you want to ensure that your site is as safe and efficient as possible, you need to conduct regular equipment inspections. Inspecting equipment is key to ensuring that everything is always working fine.

Faulty equipment can lead to serious workplace hazards and even oil spills in extreme cases. So, it’s crucial that you always inspect equipment before use to make sure that they are ready for operation before you turn them on.

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FAQs about Offshore Safety

Physical hazards are very common offshore safety hazards. This could mean noise, vibration, and even radiation hazards. Anything that can put your employee’s health and physical well-being at risk is one of the most common offshore hazards.

Other examples of offshore safety hazards include: 

  • musculoskeletal disorders from manually handling equipment; 
  • accidental ingestion or contact with hazardous substances; and 

the risk of falling and slipping in high-risk areas of the site.

Offshore safety in the oil and gas industry is regulated and overseen by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Within the organization, it’s important to have a dedicated safety officer in charge of overseeing all offshore safety concerns.

Offshore safety is in place to protect workers, organizations, and the environment from the common risks and hazards of the oil and gas industry. These regulations are in place to protect individuals in the industry from unnecessarily high-risk situations.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.