Bureau Of Safety And Environmental Enforcement Announces New Rule For Safety And Environmental Management Systems


In an effort to reduce the occurrence of accidents, injuries and spills during oil and gas activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a final rule on April 5, 2013 that will add new requirements for Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS).  These additional requirements provide several key ways for personnel to help ensure safe performance of oil and gas activities on the OCS.  The final rule:

  • Provides additional requirements for conducting a Job Safety Analysis.
  • Requires that all SEMS audits be conducted by an audit service provider accredited by a BSEE-approved accreditation body.
  • Creates procedures that establish Stop Work Authority and make any and all personnel who witness an activity that is creating imminent risk or danger responsible for stopping the work.
  • Creates rules to identify who has the Ultimate Work Authority for operational safety and decision-making at any given time.
  • Requires an Employee Participation Plan that promotes input from employees, as well as management, to eliminate or mitigate hazards on the OCS.
  • Empowers all personnel to report to BSEE possible violations of safety or environmental requirements and threats of danger.

In response to several comments about the impact of the new SEMS rule on OCS contractors, BSEE stated that it is evaluating the possibility of requiring contractors to have a SEMS program while performing operations on the OCS and that this topic may be the subject of a future rulemaking.  In the meantime, BSEE notes the multiple areas in the pre-existing SEMS rules and in the new SEMS rule where contractors are directly involved in SEMS compliance.

The new rule becomes effective on June 4, 2013.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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