The Interior Department Tuesday issued a proposed rule that aims to strengthen offshore workplace safety and environmental reforms that it issued nearly a year ago.

The proposed Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) rule is part of a series of safety and environmental reforms implemented by Interior following the blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico and the resulting explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010 (see Daily GPI, April 22, 2010).

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) Director Michael R. Bromwich jointly announced the proposed rule, which would supplement the Workplace Safety Rule issued in October 2010 and would augment operators’ SEMS programs with employee training, engage personnel in safety management and require safety audits to be conducted by third parties.

Specifically, the proposed rule adds six items for oil and gas operators to include in their safety and environmental management programs:

“As we continue to encourage balanced and responsible oil and gas development on the OCS [Outer Continental Shelf], we must remain fully focused on continually strengthening safety standards to protect workers and to reduce the risk of accidents and spills,” said Salazar. “Our goal is to ensure that safety is front and center every day, for every worker, on every project.”

The proposed SEMS rule would apply to all oil and gas activities on the OCS, including drilling, production, construction, well workover, well completion, well servicing, lifting activities and Interior pipeline activities.

“The proposed rule is the latest regulatory reform we have undertaken to enhance the safety of offshore energy operations,” said Bromwich.

The BOEM notice, which was published in the Federal Register Monday, calls on the public to comment on the proposed rule by Nov. 14. Comments can be submitted at

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