In our August 2009 E-Bulletin we reported on the extension of the Health & Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 to renewable energy zones beyond Great Britain's territorial seas (up to 12 nautical miles from the British coast). This extension was intended to be a temporary measure expiring on 6 April 2011 but has now in effect been extended until April 2013.
The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) (Variation) Order 2009 was enacted with an expiry date of 6 April 2011 on the basis that this would provide an 18 month period for the HSE to carry out a formal public consultation on a regulatory framework that would more adequately address the health and safety issues identified by the HSE in relation to offshore works such as:
- "Normal construction risks" e.g. slips, trips and falls.
- Wind energy risks such as electrocution and fire exacerbated by windy conditions and lightning, blade failures and turbine collapses.
- Offshore risks such as large waves, diving activities and working on boats/ships.
This replacement regulatory framework has not yet materialised and so the 2009 Order has been extended by the 2011 Order. The 2011 Order continues the substantive provisions of the 2009 Order, on which we previously reported.
The 2011 Order will give the HSE a further 24 months to engage with industry stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework to make sure that it fully addresses emerging offshore energy developments. For example Renewable UK takes an active role in developing guidance for the offshore energy sector and the ongoing work on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work is likely to shape the future direction of the health and safety regime for offshore energy projects. The first phase of the Agency's investigation ("Foresight of New and Emerging Risks to Occupational Safety and Health Associated with New Technologies in Green Jobs by 2020") was published in March.
In the meantime offshore energy projects will remain subject to the existing regulatory provisions for the immediate future.