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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)?

The Act of August 4 1996 regarding the welfare of employees stipulates strict provisions concerning:

  • company welfare policies;
  • the installation of organisational entities; and
  • surveillance by external services for technical surveillance in the workplace.

This act is implemented by several royal decrees, the vast majority of which are relevant to oil and gas operations. The decrees generally impose risk analysis and particular preventive measures for factors such as:

  • ventilation;
  • work in thermic or hyperbaric environments; and
  • health and safety regulation.

Lastly, the EU Seveso II Directive (96/82/EC), implemented by the cooperation agreement of February 16 2016, imposes safety and prevention measures and inspection programmes. Inspections are partially executed by the Inspectorate for Welfare at Work and, more specifically, the Division for the Supervision of Chemical Risks.

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)?

Like any other industry, the oil and gas sector must comply with Belgian labour law, in particular, the Labour Act of March 16 1971 and the Act on Workers Agreements of July 3 1978. Sectorial rules, set out in binding collective bargaining agreements, are also increasingly important for the oil and gas industry. 

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

The oil and gas sector has a significant number of collective bargaining agreements on a variety of topics. The collective bargaining agreement of October 15 2016 concerning employees in the petroleum industry and trade is particularly relevant. It stipulates a maximum average working week of 38 hours with 12 days’ compensation for overtime. Further, minimum hourly wages and specific premiums are established for several functions, in addition to general premiums, such as:

  • the end of year premium;
  • the fidelity premium;
  • the polluting activity premium; and
  • the shift work premium.

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