Operating plant, obligations and safety management systems

Safety in the petroleum and gas industry in Queensland is regulated under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (P&G Act).

The P&G Act prescribes safety obligations and requirements for certain activities and plant known as 'operating plant', and for their safety management system (SMS).

What is operating plant?

The activities and plant that are prescribed as 'operating plant' are explained in the Guideline for operating plant (PDF, 976KB).

The guideline also sets out the requirements for operating plant under the P&G Act and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Operator obligations

The operator is:

  • for most operating plant, the person (corporation or individual) who is responsible for managing and ensuring the safe operation of the plant
  • for coal mining-CSG operating plant, the relevant site senior executive under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999.

The operator must:

  • when commissioning operating plant, or operating it for the first time in Queensland, submit an information notice at least 20 business days before starting operations
  • when decommissioning operating plant, submit an information notice within 20 business days of decommissioning the operating plant
  • for each stage of the plant, make an SMS that complies with s. 675 of the P&G Act and, if the plant is used to explore for, extract, produce or release petroleum within coal seams, s. 705C of the P&G Act
  • ensure the SMS is accessible by persons at the plant and that everyone with obligations under the system is aware of their obligations
  • ensure the SMS is implemented and maintained
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that everyone who has an obligation under the SMS for the plant complies with their obligations
  • ensure that the SMS and all resulting records are kept for 7 years and made available for inspection at the operating plant when requested.

Executive safety manager obligations

The executive safety manager (ESM) is:

  • for most operating plant, the senior managing officer of the corporation or organisation responsible for the management and safe operation of the operating plant (if the operator is a corporation or organisation) or the operator (if the operator is an individual)
  • for authorised activities operating plant, the senior managing officer of the corporation or organisation responsible for the management and safe operation of the authorised activities for the authority (if the holder is a corporation or organisation) or the holder of an authority or tenure (if the holder is an individual)
  • for a coal mining-CSG operating plant, the site senior executive appointed under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999.

The ESM must:

  • if the operator is a corporation, nominate an individual as a representative of the operator (an operator’s representative) to give and receive information for the operator under this Act
  • ensure the operator of the plant has, for each stage of the plant, an SMS that effectively manages the risks associated with the plant
  • approve the SMS before it is put into effect
  • ensure the system is implemented in a way that effectively manages the risks associated with the plant
  • submit an information notice stating who is the operator, executive safety manager or operator's representative (notice must be given at the time any of these change).

SMS requirements

An SMS is a comprehensive and integrated system for managing health and safety risks.

The SMS must be relevant to the operating plant (e.g. a specific site) and each stage of the plant (commissioning, operation, maintenance or modification, or decommissioning).

It must comply with the content requirements for SMS prescribed in s. 675 of the P&G Act and should conform with AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018.

Provided your SMS contains all the content requirements under the P&G Act, it can be part of a larger SMS under the Work Health and Safety Act.

Either way, the SMS must be displayed and be easily accessible at the operating plant. It must provide clear guidance about the SMS components relevant to the operating plant.

You can use our technical guidelines for operating plant to help you develop your SMS and verify that your system is effective and meets legislative requirements.

Site safety manager obligations

If the SMS for an operating plant requires a site safety manager for a site at the plant, the operator of the plant must appoint an appropriately qualified person as the site safety manager.

If no-one has been appointed as the site safety manager for a site at an operating plant, the site safety manager for the site is the executive safety manager (if the operator is a corporation) or the operator (if the operator is an individual).

The site safety manager must take all reasonable steps to ensure that:

  • each person who enters the site is given an appropriate induction that minimises risk
  • each person at a site complies with standard operating procedures (SOPs), emergency response procedures and other measures necessary for the safety of the site and the person
  • each person working at the site performs their functions safely and follows SOPs for the plant
  • necessary first aid, safety and other equipment that is appropriate for the likely hazards of the site is available, maintained and accessible
  • relevant staff are trained in first aid, emergency and other general safety procedures.

General safety obligation

Each person at an operating plant must, to the extent of the person's duties and responsibilities under the P&G Act or the SMS for the plant, take all reasonable steps to ensure no person or property is exposed to a level of risk in relation to the operating plant that is more than an acceptable level.

An acceptable level of risk is one that is:

  • within acceptable safety limits, having regard to each relevant safety requirement
  • is as low as reasonably practicable.

In determining risk, you must consider:

  • the likelihood or injury or illness to a person, or of property damage, from the risk
  • the probable severity of injury, illness or damage
  • whether or not the risk is avoidable by reasonable means.