Merci pour votre visite du site Internet La version française de notre site est présentement en refonte et sera disponible sous peu.

Offshore safety

Protecting workers offshore is a top priority for the companies operating in Atlantic Canada’s remote, harsh offshore environment. The offshore industry is guided by comprehensive health and safety plans, which are developed by operators and submitted to regulators before any activity is approved. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) and Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) audit company health and safety programs and regularly inspect offshore work locations. The boards have the authority to shut down operations that are deemed unsafe.

The industry uses comprehensive safety management systems to monitor, maintain, and improve safety performance. Management systems assess the effectiveness of safety programs and determine areas for improvement.

Safety training

The focus on safety begins before a worker ever travels offshore. Before working on offshore facilities, all personnel must complete mandatory orientations and comprehensive training, including a five-day basic survival program. Workers repeat this training throughout their careers.

The CNSOPB and C-NLOPB, along with CAPP, voluntarily formed the Atlantic Canada Offshore Petroleum Industry Training and Qualifications Committee (TQC) to develop and maintain a standard practice for training and qualifications requirements for offshore personnel. The Atlantic Canada Offshore Petroleum Standard Practice for the Training and Qualifications of Offshore Personnel is reviewed, revised, and published approximately every two years to reflect advancements in technology, changes in best practices locally and internationally, and new research findings.

Atlantic Canada Offshore Petroleum Industry Training and Qualifications Committee
Offshore oil and gas safety training
Offshore safety training exercise

Helicopter safety

Helicopters are the primary method of transporting workers to and from offshore facilities. The offshore industry works diligently to make sure this mode of transportation is as safe as possible.

Helicopters used to transport workers to and from Atlantic Canada’s offshore facilities are certified to the highest standards and regulated by Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Helicopter operators adhere to strict safety procedures and policies, which are overseen by local oil and natural gas companies and by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Boards.

Offshore workers are also provided with specialized safety equipment for transportation to and from and while working on offshore facilities. This equipment includes helicopter passenger transportation suits and helicopter underwater emergency breathing equipment, along other personal protective equipment.

The Helicopter Operations Safety Committee (HOSC) was created in response to an offshore helicopter incident in 2009. Minutes from committee meetings are available to the public.

Helicopter safety
Helicopter Operations Safety Committee

Emergency planning and response

From the earliest stages of planning to the end of oil and natural gas production, offshore operators take great precaution to prevent emergencies. Before any activity is undertaken, operators identify and analyze potential risks to people and the environment. Procedures are put in place to reduce identified risks, and workers are trained to recognize and respond to potential emergencies. Redundancies are built into offshore operations with the goal of preventing incidents.

Although the focus is on accident prevention, operators must also be prepared to respond effectively in an emergency.

Companies are required by law to have comprehensive emergency response plans and procedures in place before the relevant Offshore Petroleum Board approves their activities.

An emergency response plan is a detailed plan that guides the actions of workers and contractors if an emergency occurs. Such plans give workers the training to make the right decisions and take the right actions when they have to react to an emergency. These plans also identify sources of extra support and specialized expertise and resources that may be called upon if required, and outline approaches for proper notification of government agencies, regulators, and other stakeholders, if required. Emergency response plans are designed to first protect people and the environment, and then to minimize damage to equipment and facilities. The plans cover an exhaustive list of potential situations, including:

  • Fatalities, serious injuries, and medical emergencies
  • Missing persons
  • Diving emergencies
  • Loss of control of a well
  • Fires and explosions
  • Oil or hazardous material spills
  • Damage to offshore infrastructure, support vessels, and aircraft
  • Vessel collisions
  • Presence of heavy sea ice or icebergs
  • Extreme weather, including icing
  • Helicopter incidents

Emergency response plans are revised regularly as technology advances and new research becomes available.

Offshore oil workers

Emergency training

The industry views training as a critical component of emergency preparedness and response planning. In addition to completing mandatory safety training courses, all employees are required to be familiar with emergency response procedures, which are practiced regularly through drills and exercises at offshore facilities.

Operators are also required to designate emergency action teams, consisting of specially trained and qualified personnel, to respond quickly and effectively to a variety of offshore emergency situations. Each person assigned to an emergency action team receives initial training and participates in refresher training and onboard emergency drills and exercises to keep skills and training up-to-date.

Emergency action teams include:

  • Fast Rescue Craft
  • Fire
  • First Aid
  • Medevac
  • Survival Craft


Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response

Atlantic Canada Offshore Safety Share