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More About UWA and the SEMS Program Requirements

The BSEE says that UWA, or “ultimate work authority” refers to designating one named person onboard or located at a facility, who is given the ultimate responsibility and authority to make final decisions with regard to imminent danger and SEMS implementation. That responsibility does rotate as needed to accommodate shift changes, but only one person has the ultimate responsibility and authority at any given time. The person with UWA plays a critical role in making sure that the SEMS program is carried out in such a way that personal safety and environmental protection are specifically addressed.

As part of the final rule, the SEMS program must name and designate the person with the UWA on the facilities. To fulfill this requirement, you can simply post a notice in a conspicuous, public location. Only one individual may have UWA at a given time, so an operator needs to take into account all USCG regulations that involve designating the person in charge of a floating facility on the OCS, or a MODU.

The SEMS program must also establish that if an emergency occurs that leads to imminent danger to the safety or health of a person, the public, or the environment, the person with the UWA has the authority to pursue the most effective course of action necessary, in that person’s judgment, for mitigating and eliminating the conditions that caused the emergency.

The final rule also mandates that operators implement all parts of their SEMS program at all times on all facilities. This includes unmanned facilities, as well as those with crews present and working. The BSEE recognizes that compliance with this requirement is complicated when the facilities are in close proximity to each other, or when they are attached. The final rule clarifies that the facility operator must identify the individual with overall UWA for all facilities that are involved in a common operation.

Additionally, the operator must make sure that all employees are clear about who has UWA, as well as who is in charge of each specific activity or operation. Employees must also be clear on when that responsibility shifts to another person.

If you have questions about any of the components of the Final Rule, the attorneys at The Young Firm are ready to answer your questions and address your concerns. Contact us today at 504-680-4100, or by reaching out to us on our webpage.

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