New safety standards for Atlantic offshore workers now in effect

New occupational health and safety provisions for Canada’s Atlantic offshore came into force on Dec. 31. The provisions are a result of extensive collaboration between the federal government and the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
The federal Offshore Health and Safety Act and the provincial legislation, referred to as the Accord Acts in each offshore area, strengthens Canada’s already robust offshore regulatory system by ensuring the highest standards for worker safety, environmental protection and management of petroleum resources.

The amendments to the Canada-Nova Scotia and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Accord Acts clarify the roles and responsibilities of operators, governments, employers, employees and regulators. They incorporate fundamental OHS principles including a worker’s right to refusal, a worker’s right to know and a worker’s right to reprisal protection for raising health and safety concerns.

“I'm pleased these enhancements… will strengthen the occupational health and safety regime for the offshore oil and gas industry in the province. The amendments are tailored to the offshore working environment," said Newfoundland and Labrador's Minister of Service NL Tony Cornect. 

The amendments also provide clear and specific enforcement powers for occupational health and safety and new inspection and investigation provisions. Additionally, the amendments will ensure that the occupational health and safety regime applies to workers in transit to, from or between offshore platforms.

The legislation places clear authority for occupational health and safety within each Accord Act. While occupational health and safety regulations are being developed to support the legislation, transitional regulations will apply.

"This legislation is a significant step forward for the safety of offshore workers," said Nova Sctoia's Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board will continue to administer the legislation and regulations on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.  

Canada’s offshore petroleum production accounts for 25 per cent of light crude output (or six per cent of Canada’s annual total crude output) and one per cent of annual average natural gas output.

Activities in the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area accounted for about 28 per cent of the nominal provincial GDP in 2012. Newfoundland and Labrador has received $8.4 billion in royalties from the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area and Nova Scotia has received $2 billion in royalties from the Canada–Nova Scotia offshore area.