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Regulator: Safety substandard, training inadequate in rig blast

As we know so well in Houston, the oil industry is not only a business vital to the nation's economic health, but also one that poses a number of serious risks to the physical health of its workers.

Too often, accidents on oil rigs, or at refineries and on pipelines happen and the results can be serious injuries and even deaths. A year ago, an explosion on an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed three workers; a federal regulator has found that safety lapses in supervision contributed to those unfortunate deaths.

A report issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC had failed to adequately train contractors and to follow safety procedures.

The explosion occurred on a platform 17 miles off of the coast of Louisiana in about 50 feet of water. A number of Filipino guest workers who had been on the rig later told investigators that they were afraid of losing their jobs if they reported safety violations.

The blast was the worst oil rig accident in the Gulf since the infamous Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 that left 11 workers dead.

As we've seen so many times with similar industrial accidents, some companies find ways to cut corners, skirt regulations and enhance their bottom lines at the expense of the men and women who are on the front lines on the rigs, pipelines and on the construction sites.

Fortunately, there are legal protections for workers who have been injured and for families who have lost loved ones to employer negligence. An experienced attorney can help explain those options and help obtain full and fair compensation.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Regulator Finds Safety Lapses in Fatal Oil-Rig Fire," Nov. 4, 2013

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