With Fewer Safety Regulations, Offshore Workers Will Lose
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion forced the offshore industry to change. One of the most significant changes came from oversight—the White House created the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement to ensure that the oil drilling industry was operating safely (while remaining economically viable). The result was fewer accidents and offshore injuries.
However, in recent months the BSEE has been rolling back its own rules. While that might be good news for smaller drilling firms, every regulation has a trade-off—and in this case, rig workers will be on the losing side of the equation. History has shown us that lowering the safety standards for the offshore industry has predictable side-effects, few of them good.
If the BSEE lowers the safety standard, we can expect:
- Higher production
- Increased employment
- Increased accidents
- Increased environmental damage
We don’t mention environmental damage because we have an agenda—we mention it because the Gulf Coast lives or dies by the fishing, boating, and maritime industries. Our families and communities were devastated by the destruction caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Not only did hundreds of fishing or coastal businesses find themselves without a way to make a living, but thousands more people in the Gulf Coast had to foot the bill for the cleanup process. Fewer accidents mean a healthier economy with fewer harmed workers. That matters to individual workers and the whole industry.
Increased employment and higher production is good for our communities, but most of that money enriches the drilling firm at the cost of workers’ lives and livelihoods. Some workers and families will benefit.
Others will bear the burden of lifelong injuries and loss.
Workers for Independent Drilling Firms Are Most At-Risk
Under the new agenda, the BSEE will only monitor independent firms who are drilling in deep waters (most smaller firms stick to shallow waters, as their platforms are usually damaged, old, or both). This leaves most independent drilling platforms under less scrutiny—even though, historically, these are the most dangerous places to work.
Our firm knows firsthand that companies that are inspected less often will do less to keep their workers safe. We support measures that increase the economic prosperity of our neighbors and our friends—but that economic prosperity can’t come at the cost of their arms, legs, mobility, or lives. That’s too high a price to pay.