Government's safety improvements for offshore workers welcomed by union

Published: 16 Feb 2024




16 FEBRUARY 2024

The Maritime Union of Australia has welcomed new legislation introduced to Parliament this week by Resources Minister Madeleine King that will deliver important safety improvements for maritime and offshore workers in the oil and gas sector.

The offshore oil and gas sector is one of the highest-risk industries anywhere in Australia. Workers perform dangerous tasks in remote and isolated areas amongst significant physical and psychological hazards. Despite these realities, Australian offshore workers have the least health and safety rights and protections of any group of workers anywhere in the country. 

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024 makes significant progress towards closing that gap and providing stronger protections.

It will: 

  • Strengthen the role and training of Health and Safety Representatives; 
  • Allow Health and Safety Representatives to request a review of safety management documents;  
  • Improve worker protection against discrimination and coercion;  
  • Strengthen the mental health protections for offshore oil and gas workers; 
  • Improve health and safety rules for diving operations and dive vessels; and 
  • Strengthen and simplify reporting requirements for serious injury notifications. 

The MUA’s National Safety and Training Officer, Justin Timmins, acknowledge these first steps towards bolstering safety standards for oil and gas workers on offshore sites.

“The harmonisation of offshore petroleum safety standards with national safety legislation that the Government has committed to is the next obvious priority and we look forward to contributing our knowledge and experience to this reform process,” Mr Timmins said.

The MUA’s National Assistant Secretary, Adrian Evans, highlighted the ideological attacks on offshore workers that led to the regulatory and legislative failures this Bill begins to address.

“John Howard removed the application of maritime safety legislation to floating petroleum facilities (FPSOs) in 2003, in an attempt to get rid of MUA members and their maritime expertise. The Northern Endeavour was one of these facilities, and it was only four years old at the time.  Lacking strong maritime regulation and expertise on board it became a rust bucket. It was shut down a few years ago when a worker was almost killed and now the Australian taxpayer is stuck cleaning up the mess,” Mr Evans said.

“The new legislation introduced this week begins the task of addressing these decades-long problems, but we are keen to see further reform and the restoration of maritime standards on floating petroleum facilities,” Evans added.

“Every other floating petroleum facility in the world that has the ability to voyage as a ship has to comply with global maritime safety and crewing standards. The MUA’s position is that FPSOs in Australia are no different, and we look forward to working with the government to close this safety gap,” Mr Evans said.




Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney