Offshore facilities - occupational health and safety regulations strengthened

Duty holders wanting to store or handle hazardous materials above certain quantities on offshore facilities in Victorian seas or coastal waters will have to follow strict new requirements following amendments to the occupational health and safety regulations.


What this means

From 1 September 2021, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 give WorkSafe Victoria (as the Authority) the power to determine that any ship, floating platform or other place is a 'facility', if the Authority is satisfied that:

  • it is a workplace at which Schedule 14 materials are present or likely to be present; and
  • it is located in, proposed to be located in or will be located in Victorian coastal waters or the sea within the limits of Victoria.

Once determined a facility is eligible for registration and subsequent licensing as a Major hazard facility.

The need for change

Technology continues to change and it is now common for previously land-based infrastructure to be incorporated into or on offshore facilities. A small number of emerging projects are likely to result in significant quantities of hazardous materials being permanently stored and processed in Victorian waters.

The amendments will

Continue to ensure protection of workers to expected standards

WorkSafe sees the application of the Major Hazard Facilities regulatory framework to relevant offshore facilities in its waters as a natural extension to similarly protect persons who work on these offshore facilities; and/or persons who reside adjacent to or use Victorian waters.

Applies best practice safety case regime

Safety case style legislation is considered global best practice for the management of high consequence/low frequency events and hence has been adopted widely both in Australia and overseas.

National consistency

All other Australian jurisdictions extend the application of requirements for MHFs to those based on land or water, and hence already capture offshore projects based in coastal waters.

Who does this impact?

These amendments will impact a minor number of duty holders. The amendments have been introduced to ensure any current and future proposals can be treated similarly to land based MHFs to ensure the safety of all Victorians.

The changes do not apply to hazardous substances or dangerous goods which are 'in transit' within Victoria's ports.

Are there changes for existing registered or licenced land based MHFs?

It is important to note that the regulatory change does not require any existing registered or licenced land-based MHFs to adopt additional safety duties.

More information