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Surprise Offshore Drilling Inspections Uncover Serious Threats to Worker Safety, Even as Trump Administration Weakens Vital Regulations

Louisiana Maritime Lawyer | Texas Maritime Lawyer | Drilling Rig Accident Lawyer

Surprise inspections have turned up serious problems – including some that were deemed life-threatening – at numerous offshore drilling sites and platforms scattered throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

While the findings would be concerning under any circumstances, they seem especially urgent in light of recent Trump administration efforts to weaken – and in some cases eliminate – vital safety regulations that were enacted to protect offshore workers from the threat of deadly accidents and explosions.

The snap inspections were conducted by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and focused on the massive cranes used to lift workers and supplies from vessels in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore platforms and rigs.

According to The New York Times, lift-related accidents are the second-leading cause of offshore injuries and deaths, surpassed only by fires and explosions.

Just last month,  the BSEE alerted offshore operators  to a series of “potentially catastrophic crane and lifting incidents” that occurred in the Gulf late last year.  Overall, the rate of such accidents increased by 4% in 2017, representing the second-highest yearly level in the past decade.

Offshore Operators Issued Noncompliance Notices Following Snap Inspections

The surprise initiative took place on March 6th and 7th and involved more than 50 inspectors deployed to roughly 40 offshore sites in the Gulf.

While the findings from the inspection are still being tabulated, some offshore operators have already received noncompliance notices from the BSEE, which may ultimately result in fines.

Not much is known about the specific violations that were found during the inspections. In the sole example noted by The New York Times, a crane aboard a Fieldwood Energy facility was being used in a way that not only exceeded its design specifications, but that could have led to a potentially fatal accident.

Trump Administration Continues to Rollback Vital Offshore Safety Regulations

The troubling results of the BSEE’s surprise inspections appear to have had little – if any – impact on the Trump administration’s plans to rollback vital offshore regulations, including many enacted in response to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico and injured dozens of others.

This same regulatory purge has also delayed – if not stopped entirely – the finalization of other important offshore regulations, including, ironically, a proposal to implement new standards for crane safety. What’s more, several of the independent offshore operators lobbying for these rollbacks – including Arena Offshore, Energy XXI, and Fieldwood – have been cited in recent crane accident investigations.

Some of these operators have also received citations for workplace safety violations at a rate far higher than the industry average.

Were You or Someone You Love Injured or Tragically Killed in an Offshore Accident or Explosion? Contact Our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers for a Free Consultation by Calling 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here.

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If you or someone you love were involved in an offshore accident or explosion, call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to submit a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.

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