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Better Safety Data Could Help Prevent Texas Oil Industry Disasters

23 July 2012No Comments

In March 2005, shortly after returning from a celebratory luncheon during which BP personnel were celebrated for an outstanding safety record, 15 workers were killed in an explosion at BP’s refinery in Texas City. As a result of the deadly explosion, BP was charged with criminal violations of federal environmental laws and was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for hundreds of safety violations. Unfortunately, it was data indicating a decline in personal injury accidents like slip and falls that took the attention of managers and operators away from more significant data regarding overall safety, which warned that something devastating could strike at the refinery. This data included hydrocarbon overflows, faulty safety alarms, multiple flammable gas releases and fires, cutbacks in maintenance, and long hours with few breaks among workers. Inadequate safety measures is a major cause of oil industry accidents in Texas and across the U.S. If you have been injured in an oil field accident in Corpus Christi, contact our qualified Texas oil field accident lawyers at Bandas Law Firm as soon as possible.

New Guidance on Process Safety Indicators Inadequate

Following the devastating Texas City refinery explosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) advised BP, the American Petroleum Institute and the United Steelworkers Union to develop what are called leading safety indicators, or data that provides insight into the adequacy of safety management systems used to identify risk factors of major work accidents that can be acted on before disasters occur. In response to this recommendation, the oil industry issued new guidance on process safety indicators. However, more action should be taken to further strengthen this guidance and engage work-force representatives in the process. Past CSB investigations have drawn attention to companies that focus on personal injury rates while overlooking serious process safety issues, including backlogs in maintaining safety equipment and failure to implement previous safety recommendations. These findings are the reason the CSB is holding a two-day public hearing in Houston on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Reducing Risk Of Texas Oil Industry Disasters

The hearing in Houston will include experts from abroad who will report on the use of safety performance indicators to reduce major hazard risks. In April 2010, a blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in fires and explosions that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Organizational expert Professor Andrew Hopkins points out that the U.S. falls behind Norway and Australia, major offshore oil producers, in requirements to publicly report such data as “well kicks,” which can lead to a deadly blowout. The Deepwater Horizon crew experienced several well kicks at the Macondo well prior to the disaster, which could have, if properly investigated, notified rig managers of the need for improved kick identification and response, and could have prevented the disaster.

Contact A Texas Oil Field Accident Attorney For Help

Similar to the Texas City disaster, officials were in the process of congratulating BP operators and workers at the Macondo well for a low rate of personal injuries on the day the Deepwater Horizon tragedy occurred. In fact, company officials had flown to the rig in part to celebrate the workforce’s zero lost-time work accidents, while much broader safety indicators at the well should have warned federal regulators, owners and operators of safety problems that could have prevented the deadly explosion. When owners, managers and supervisors in the oil industry concentrate on the rate of personal injury accidents on the job site alone, attention is taken away from more significant safety indicators that could warn of impending disaster. Unfortunately, preventable catastrophes like the BP refinery explosion in Texas City and the BP explosion and oil spill on the Deepwater Horizon rig result in devastating injury and tragic loss of life for oil field workers. If you have suffered major injuries caused by an oil field accident in Texas, or if you lost a loved one in such an accident, contact our experienced oil field accident attorneys at Bandas Law Firm today.

Posted Under: Personal Injury