Personnel to get stop-work authority under strengthened SEMS II

Field-level staff who see an imminent risk during offshore operations are to have stop-work authority under the latest enhancement to BSEE’s Workplace Safety regime.

In its bid to root out any lingering complacency in offshore operations, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has released the “final rule” for its Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) program.
Bolstering the original SEMS rule of 2010, the SEMS II final rule requires greater employee participation, gives field level personnel authority to stop work, and strengthens oversight by requiring audits to be conducted by accredited third parties.

Extra safety requirements in the final rule include:

Developing a stop-work authority that authorizes personnel who see an imminent risk to stop work;

Developing an ultimate work authority that requires operators to define who has the ultimate work authority on a facility for operational safety and decision- making at any given time;

Requiring an employee participation plan to eliminate or mitigate safety hazards;

Establishing guidelines for reporting that enable personnel to report possible violations and threats of danger directly to BSEE; and

Requiring that the team lead for an audit be independent and represent an accredited audit service provider.

BSEE Director Jim Watson said the SEMS II final rule was needed to embed a safety culture deeper in the industry.

“BSEE’s workplace safety rules are designed to promote that culture by eliminating complacency and making sure that companies are looking at the human factors that underlie too many accidents,” he said.

The Workplace Safety Rule became effective in November 2010. Operators were required to implement a SEMS program by November 2011 and must still submit their first completed SEMS audit to BSEE by November 15 this year.

The SEMS II final rule takes effect on June 4 this year but does not affect an operator’s first audit cycle.

“In the nearly three years since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, BSEE has implemented the most aggressive and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms in the nation’s history resulting in significant enhancements to safety and environmental protection,” BSEE said in a press release.

More on the SEMS II final rule can be found here.