On 6th April 2013, subject to Privy Council approval, a new Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (Application outside Great Britain) Order 2013 will come into force. This Order will repeal the existing 2001 Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) Order and the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) (Variation) Order 2011. It will re-enact the existing provisions, while both making alterations thereto and also introducing entirely new articles to take account of emerging energy technologies (EETs).
Objectives of the New Order
In its guidance notes on the legislative changes, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that in summary the new order will:
- Ensure the statutory protection provided by the 2001 Order and 2011 Variation Order is maintained.
- Provide legal clarity for duty holders that the HSE has the power to regulate activities associated with new EETs (e.g. combustible gas storage and underground coal gasification) and climate change technologies offshore (e.g. carbon dioxide storage).
- Update the definitions relating to certain activities, based on the lessons the HSE has learned from operational experience and taking on board feedback from the public consultation (e.g. clarifying which structures are regulated as an offshore installation).
The new order applies sections 1-59 and 80-82 of the 1974 Act (the ‘prescribed provisions’) beyond mainland Great Britain to specified offshore areas, including within territorial sea, UK designated areas or a gas importation and storage zone. It applies these provisions to the following work activities:
- Offshore installations and most activities on or in connection with them, including certain diving projects (Article 4);
- Wells and connected activities (Article 5);
- Pipelines, pipeline works and activities related to pipeline works (Article 6);
- Mines and connected activities (Article 7);
- Activities connected to gas unloading, storage and recovery, the conversion of any natural feature for the permanent or temporary storage of gas and related exploration activities (Article 8);
- Energy production from water or wind and activities in connection with their exploration and exploitation (Article 9);
- Underground coal gasification and any activities in connection thereto (Article 10); and
Various other activities within the territorial sea e.g. installation, inspection and maintenance of a cable and the loading, fuelling or provisioning of a vessel (Article 11).
Various amendments are to be made within Article 4 of the order, which concerns the 1974 Act’s applicability to offshore installations. The prescribed provisions will now apply to: gas storage activities which are undertaken via an offshore installation within a specified area; vessels whose ‘primary’ purpose is accommodation (previously only those whose ‘main’ purpose was accommodation were covered); all activities in relation to a non-mobile structure which was formerly an offshore installation; and activities, including from a vessel, involving mechanically entering a well’s pressure containment boundary.
Conversely, the range of excluded activities has been expanded. Activities undertaken from a vessel in relation to providing emergency assistance, training and testing equipment to assist in the event of an emergency and placing or maintaining a vessel on ‘stand-by’ for any of the aforementioned activities will not be covered. However, a vessel used for these excluded activities will still fall within the scope of the Act where other activities – beyond the emergency activities listed – are also carried on from the vessel in connection with an offshore installation (such as carrying out heavy lift operations).
For a full list of the proposed legislative changes please go to www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/legislative-changes.pdf