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As 2015’s First Hurricane Approaches, Oil Companies’ Safety Standards Remain Under Scrutiny

On August 20, Danny became the first hurricane of the 2015 season with wind speeds hitting 80 miles per hour. While forecasters are predicting a lower-than-average number of hurricanes in 2015, they have also warned that any hurricanes that reach the southeastern United States this year could have drastic impacts for the oil industry and local communities.

Oil companies are required by law to protect the safety of their workers when storms threaten offshore rigs and other operations in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. More specifically, they must exercise reasonable care to evacuate their employees in advance of any hurricanes and tropical storms. However, even after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, concerns remain as to whether offshore operators are adequately prepared for when the next big storm arrives.

Are the Oil Companies Ready for the Next Big Offshore Hurricane?

“Safety experts and environmental advocates are skeptical the industry is prepared for the next big storm.” Those are the words of one reporter who investigated the oil industry’s and the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina ten years after the storm caused an estimated $250 billion in economic damage in the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans, and surrounding areas.

While oil companies have strengthened their platforms and reinforced their pipelines, they continue to be largely reactive in addressing the risks of hurricanes and other deadly storms. Despite its risks, this approach has been generally accepted by the government, which relies on the industry to guide policy and still allows companies to make their own decisions about when to shut down offshore operations.

Oil Industry Slump May Create Greater Risks for Offshore Workers

With oil prices at a six-year low, offshore workers may already be facing safety risks as oil companies lay off employees and make other cuts in order to protect their bottom lines. If hurricane season comes into full swing while rig operators are in the process of making cuts and doing whatever they can to protect their profits, workers in the Gulf of Mexico may be at even greater risk when the storms arrive.

“Companies Under Financial Pressure are More Likely to Take Safety Risks”

This concern is echoed by industry experts. A former Shell executive and engineering-risk professor stated during the investigation discussed above that, “[t]he economic cost squeeze is on big time,” and this may lead to offshore workers being forced to work under unreasonably dangerous conditions.

At Zehl & Associates, we will continue to monitor the 2015 hurricane season, and will be fully prepared to help offshore workers and their families take on the oil companies for any hurricane-related injuries.

Contact the Undefeated Texas Offshore Injury Lawyers from Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers for Help Today

The attorneys at Zehl & Associates have recovered over $1 Billion in compensation for offshore workers and other injury victims in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and throughout the country. They have won several record-setting verdicts, including the #1 largest injury verdict in Texas. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed while working offshore, contact our Houston law offices today for a free consultation.

We proudly serve Harris County, Midland County, and throughout the state of Texas:

Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers – Houston
2700 Post Oak Blvd #1000, Houston, TX 77056
(888) 603-3636
Open 24 hours

Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers – Midland
306 W Wall St Suite 701, Midland, TX 79701
(432) 220-0000