— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
The provincial government unveiled a massive new piece of offshore health and safety legislation today, laying out in detail how oil and gas companies need to deal with health and safety issues in the offshore.
The legislation basically spells out in writing what has been done in practice, but closes a gap in the law created by the 1992 amendments to the Atlantic Accord.
Employees have the right to refuse work, and the right to protection from reprisal for raising health and safety issues.
The legislation gives a bit more authority to the Canada-Newfounldand and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) when it comes to releasing information and it requires operators to share information when it comes health and safety.
The CNLOPB now reports to the minister responsible for health and safety when it comes to those issues. Previously, the CNLOPB only reported to the minister of natural resources.
The law itself is roughly 180 pages long, and it'll need to be passed by the Nova Scotia legislature and the House of Commons, as well as the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The 1992 Atlantic Accord separated health issues from safety issues, which effectively meant that the CNLOPB had to use other avenues to enforce health and safety issues. The new bill tries to clean all that up and lay it down in a single piece of legislation.
Officials briefing reporters said that while the bill is massive, mostly it's just laying down in law things that have already been happening in practice.
The new legislation does not address Recommendation 29 from the Wells inquiry into offshore helicopter safety. Wells called for a separate offshore safety regulator, taken out of the CNLOPB's hands.