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Latest Oil Rig Disaster Should Be Wake-Up Call for Industry

Friday, November 16, 2012
Press Contacts: 

Dorry Samuels


(508) 277-7997

Latest Oil Rig Disaster Should Be Wake-Up Call for Industry

Statement of Tom O’Connor, Executive Director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health 

One day after BP settled with the federal government for $4.5 billion after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. At this time, two workers have been killed, four are in the hospital and two are still missing.

For years, the oil and gas industry has been characterized by a culture that values production over safety. From the BP refinery explosion in Texas City to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion to the fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif., the industry has been plagued by catastrophic incidents.

In a number of these cases, workers have been aware of hazards, but were discouraged from reporting them.

This latest disaster should be a wake-up call for the industry.

Too often, managers are rewarded on the basis of production alone, at the expense of necessary protections for worker safety.

We call on the leaders of the oil and gas industry to take all necessary measures to ensure that workers are encouraged to report safety hazards, and that no one is disciplined for expressing their concerns about safety on the job.

Furthermore, U.S. regulators should adopt the approach taken by the UK and Norway in which oil producers are required to prepare detailed safety analyses and plans prior to obtaining drilling permits.


The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is a federation of local and statewide organizations; a private, non-profit coalition of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety.

To learn more about the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, visit: http://www.coshnetwork.org.