Canada moves to strengthen OHS in offshore oil and gas

Canada is looking to strengthen safety in its offshore oil and gas industry, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt have announced.

Proposed amendments to the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act were tabled in the House of Commons on May 2. They will also be tabled in the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador legislatures.

The amendments will enable the following:

• Place authority and fundamental principles of occupational health and safety within the accord acts.
• Clarify the roles and responsibilities of governments, regulators, employers and employees. The federal minister of Natural Resources and provincial labour ministers (in consultation with the federal minister of labour and Transport Canada) will develop regulations for offshore occupational health and safety, while the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NSOPB) and Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) will administer the new legislation.
• Grant the offshore petroleum boards the authority to disclose information to the public related to occupational health and safety.
• Ensure the new occupational health and safety regime clearly applies to workers in transit to or from offshore platforms. It would require the federal minister of transportation also recommend regulations related to the occupational health and safety of offshore workers in transit.
• Provide clear and specific enforcement powers for occupational health and safety officers including the powers of inspection and investigation, warrant provisions and order measures in case of dangerous situations.

The minister of natural resources and provincial ministers responsible for occupational health and safety will be jointly responsible for the new occupational health and safety legislation, while the C-NSOPB and the C-NLOPB will administer it. To ensure federal labour expertise is provided on an ongoing basis, the labour minister will be involved in the development of regulations and consulted on the issuance of directives to the boards and the appointments of special officers.