The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has introduced a new set of rules to address and manage operational safety hazards and impacts on the US Outer Continental Shelf.

The latest step is intended to expand safe and responsible development of the nation’s oil and gas resources, alongside increasing safety for offshore crews.

The Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) II final rule has been designed to improve the original SEMS rule, also known as the Workplace Safety Rule, which was issued in October 2010.

As well as providing greater protection by supplementing operators’ SEMS programmes with greater employee participation, the new rule will empower field level personnel with safety management decisions, while also strengthening oversight by requiring audits to be conducted by accredited third-parties.

"The latest step is intended to expand safe and responsible development of the nation’s oil and gas resources."

Under the Workplace Safety Rule, which came into effect on 15 November 2010, operators were required to implement an SEMS programme by 15 November 2011 and have to submit their first completed SEMS audit to BSEE by 15 November 2013.

Subsequently, BSEE had released the Draft Safety Culture Policy Statement on 20 December 2012, to provide a common definition for everyone working offshore.

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By GlobalData

BSEE Director Jim Watson said that BSEE’s workplace safety rules have been designed to promote the culture of safety by removing complacency and ensuring companies are looking at human factors that underlie many accidents.

"This effort takes another important step towards protecting workers and the environment from preventable accidents," Watson added. Since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, BSEE has implemented several strict and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms.

The US Interior Department has estimated that the new measures will cost industry $17m annually, reported Reuters.

Image: The new rule will expand safe and responsible development of oil and gas resources in the US and increase safety for offshore crews. Photo courtesy of US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.