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Origin and nature of guidance

The move from a regime of prescriptive to goal-setting regulations in 1996 led to the withdrawal of the technical information contained in the Offshore Installations (Construction and Survey) Regulations 1974 (SI 1974/289) which was generally referred to as the Fourth Edition. The HSE published Operations Notice 27 to explain how the industry could continue to use this information (see Annex A).

This move resulted in a need for a differing style of guidance for duty holders and regulators. Some has been created as a response to specific drivers, such as that developed by the HSE for use by its inspectors to allow them a clear understanding of assessment principles for offshore safety cases. Other guidance drafted by the HSE is intended for all users, such as the guidance outlining the strategies for dealing with fire and explosion.

A cornerstone of the UK's health and safety legislation is to control and reduce risk to ALARP, as described in HSE documents ALARP-1, -2 and -3. The documents within the Catalogue's database are aimed at assisting duty holders in making an ALARP demonstration and assisting regulators to evaluate that demonstration. This should help ensure a common understanding of what constitutes good practice. By development of the Catalogue it is hoped that overlap in guidance will become clearer and that efforts can be made to remove conflicts.

The drafting of guidance to support industry activities has been a major activity undertaken by several national and international organisations. For instance very valuable documents have been produced by Oil and Gas UK and EEMUA, whilst most of the international work has been actioned under the International Standards programme. These range from guidance on marine operations to manufacturing of piping on an offshore facility. Such guidance is continuously changing as it is created, revised or superseded.

Some European Union standards are relevant to the UK offshore oil and gas E&P industry. For example the Product Directives have driven the publication of various European standards drafted under mandate by CEN and CENELEC. When drafted under EU mandate these offer a presumption of conformity with an associated Directive - when adopted by the UK these standards are designated as BS EN standards. Standards published by ISO/IEC when adopted by the UK are designated as BS ISO or BS IEC. These may also be accepted as European standards; however, as they were not mandated, they are not classed as harmonised but are in accordance with the relevant essential safety requirements of the EU Directives (i.e. do not contain recommendations that conflict with the requirements). These are designated as BS EN ISO standards.