House Committee Raises Questions about Oil Rig Worker Safety

It's a fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is only responsible for worker safety within 3 miles of the US coastline. However, the US Coast Guard does have the authority to lay down worker safety regulations for those working on mobile offshore drilling units. This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing which looked at how oil worker safety could be enhanced. It's hard to see anything positive coming out of the Deepwater Horizon Explosion. However, the fact is that the explosion and resulting spill has focused more attention on long neglected areas of oil worker safety. For instance, currently oil workers have little whistleblower protection when they try to bring the attention of the higher-ups, to risky work conditions on a rig. These whistleblower protections are likely to be scrutinized now. It's important that workers are aware of the kind of safe working conditions they are entitled to, and have the power to stop work processes when they find that safety standards are not being met. The special hearing also focused on the safety of oil spill cleanup crews. According to the OSHA administrator, the agency is working closely with other federal agencies as well as BP, to keep workers safe while they engage in cleanup efforts. Besides, federal agencies are also involved in monitoring the names and locations of the workers currently involved in the cleanup efforts, so that their health and well-being can be tracked over the years. Among other things, federal agencies are working together to ensure that workers are not unnecessarily exposed to hazardous chemicals. Maritime lawyer Brian Beckcom is a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer whose primary focus is the representation of Jones Act kseamen, including tankermen, galley hands, deckhands, cruise line crews, fishing vessel crew members, offshore workers and other maritime workers in accidents in Texas, across the country and international waters.

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