(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) Oil spill response is a vital measure to mitigate environmental impacts at sea and on the shore caused by an oil spill. A fundamental principle of incident management is that any activities in connection with oil spill response operations should not cause harm to the life and health of the oil spill responders.
For that reason, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) considerations should be an integral part of the oil spill response operation preparation, implementation and management. The topic of occupational safety and health is very wide and covers all aspects that can affect the wellbeing of workers involved in a task or operation.
While all EU countries have specific laws or regulations on occupational safety and health, that adapt the EU OSH-directives (or legislation) to their specific infrastructure and needs, these are often quite generic and not specifically aimed to address OSH considerations regarding the particular challenges of oil spill response operations (see chapter 2.1).
Under the framework of the Consultative Technical Group for Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response (CTG MPPR), European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Member States have expressed interest in sharing best practices and gathering more information on health and safety approaches in place in Europe, specifically for marine oil spill response operations.
Throughout the years, efforts to facilitate this exchange of good practice have been made at national, EU and international levels through dedicated workshops, technical papers, reports and industry guidance documents. A (non-exhaustive) list of relevant regulations and guidance documents addressing OSH for marine pollution responders is included in chapter 1.4 and in Annex 10.1.
Following a proposal submitted by Norway to the CTG MPPR, a voluntary working group of experts from EU / EFTA Member States was established under the CTG MPPR work to draft OSH practical guidance for oil spill responders, based on best-practices, existing guidance, and real incident experience.
Considering the subject matter, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) was also invited by EMSA to contribute to this work in reviewing existing OSH documents and practices and in drafting this guidance document.
You can download the Guidelines on health and safety of oil spill responders, below: