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Renewable Energy Policy Statement

Policy Statement on the Role of the Department of the Interior for Workplace Safety and Health Requirements for Renewable Energy on the Outer Continental Shelf

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has developed a policy statement to address the offshore wind industry’s requests for clarification regarding the role of the Department of the Interior (DOI) with respect to workplace safety for offshore renewable energy facilities. This document is posted on webpages of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).  It is also available in the Federal Register.

Offshore Wind Safety Incidents
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DOI will serve as the primary regulator and enforcement authority for safety and health on OCS renewable energy facilities. In the offshore renewable energy context, DOI has exercised its statutory authority under 43 U.S.C. § 1337(p)(4)(A) to regulate offshore worker safety by promulgating renewable energy regulations requiring Safety Management Systems and self-inspections, providing regulations for agency-conducted inspections, and providing regulations for enforcement (30 C.F.R. part 585, subpart H). DOI’s performance-based regulatory approach in 30 C.F.R. part 585, subpart H provides industry with flexibility to adopt appropriate existing U.S. and/or international standards and best practices to ensure worker safety and health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) requirements generally apply to working conditions on the OCS, unless another Federal agency has exercised authority in that area (29 U.S.C. § 653(b)(1)). DOI, in consultation with OSHA, is publishing this policy statement to effect preemption of OSHA’s authority and establish DOI as the primary regulator and enforcement agency for worker safety and health on OCS renewable energy facilities. See generally Consol. Rail Corp., 10 BNA OSHC 1577 (No. 79-1277, 1982).

offshore wind turbine structures

To summarize the roles of U.S. Federal agencies with respect to offshore wind worker health and safety:

  • Department of the Interior (DOI): Primary regulator and enforcement agency for worker safety and health on OCS renewable energy facilities, including all wind farm construction and operations activity on leases and associated easements and rights-of-way.
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): Primary regulator and enforcement agency for worker safety and health on vessels, including wind turbine installation vessels, feeders, tugs, barges, etc. Responsible for navigational safety, life and property on inspected vessels. DOI will continue to maintain a collaborative working relationship with the USCG to promote safety on the OCS.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA will serve in a non-regulatory role, though DOI will maintain a working relationship with OSHA, including collaboration and consultation related to workplace health and safety standards for offshore renewable energy.