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Occupational health and safety and labour issues

Health and safety

What health and safety regulations and procedures apply to oil and gas operations (upstream, midstream and downstream)?

All aspects of oil and gas operations are covered by occupational health and safety law and regulations, which outline a wide range of requirements and standards, including proper use of machinery and equipment, personal protective equipment and hazardous materials. Specific to oil and gas operations, the Protection of Workers in the Mineral Extracting Industries through Drilling and Workers in Surface and Underground Mineral Extracting Industries Regulations contain requirements applicable to:

  • the onshore and offshore sectors of the mineral-extracting industries through drilling;
  • the surface and underground mineral-extracting industries; and
  • ancillary surface installations.

These regulations place specific obligations on the employer with respect to:

  • routine medical examinations for employees;
  • the provision of means of escape in case of fire or explosion;
  • the establishment of warning and alarm signals; and
  • routine training and instruction.

With respect to offshore oil and gas operations, licence holders must comply with the Offshore Safety (Oil and Gas) Regulations, which require them to submit to the Offshore Safety (Oil and Gas) Board:

  • a major accident prevention policy;
  • a safety and environmental management system applicable to the installation; and
  • an internal emergency response plan.

External emergency response plans covering all offshore oil and gas installations and potentially affected areas are dealt with under the Offshore (Oil and Gas) External Emergency Response Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 499.64). These plans are prepared by the Maritime Safety and Pollution Prevention Committee.

Labour law

Are there any labour law provisions with specific relevance to the oil and gas industry (eg, with regard to use of native and foreign personnel)?

Although there are no labour laws specific to the oil and gas industry, the Paper, Plastics, Chemicals and Petroleum Wages Council Wage Regulation Order sets out the minimum working conditions for employees carrying out activities relating to the extraction, preparation and processing of petroleum products. The order sets out:

  • minimum working hours;
  • minimum wages payable for full-time employees;
  • rates for overtime;
  • minimum weekly rests;
  • sick and vacation leave; and
  • age of retirement.

What is the state of collective bargaining/organised labour in the oil and gas industry?

Although collective bargaining agreements are recognised and accepted under Maltese law, they are confidential in nature and it is therefore unknown whether workers in the oil and gas industry have entered into such agreements.

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