On behalf of Michael Shelton at The Shelton Law Firm
Federal regulators have done little to enforce better safety standards, critics say
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon and Black Elk Energy offshore drilling accidents, the American public understandably expected dangerous drilling companies to be held to a higher standard in terms of safety. However, based on documents uncovered by WWL News, many oil companies are continuing to operate in the Gulf of Mexico despite racking up a serious litany of safety violations. The continuing problem of dangerous drilling practices comes in spite of promises by federal regulators that they were going to crack down on unsafe practices in the Gulf.
Smaller, dangerous companies
The documents revealed in the WWL report show that while safety improvements have occurred at many of the bigger oil companies, smaller companies have failed to keep up. One New Orleans-based drilling company, for example, had a citation-rate that was 36 times higher that the industry average.
Another company, Black Elk Energy, also had a deficiency rate of 9 percent, twice the industry average. An accident on one of its platforms in 2012 killed three workers. Employees with the company have revealed unsafe practices, such as supervisors smoking on drilling platforms and non-functioning gas detectors being put up just for "decoration."
Regulators promised increased enforcement
The worrying report into offshore platform safety comes after federal regulators promised last year that they would be cracking down on dangerous companies in the Gulf. According to Forbes, regulators had said they would be increasing unannounced inspections of oil rigs.
Experts, however, say that federal regulators have done little to effectively discourage dangerous operators from continuing in the Gulf. Fines for many companies are so small that they provide little incentive for companies to change their behavior. In the case of the Black Elk Energy accident, for example, regulators simply told the company to develop an improved safety plan. Furthermore, regulators don't currently keep track of the safety record of contractors and other service companies that provide the workers for many platforms. Critics say that unless companies are seriously threatened with being banned from operating in the Gulf entirely then there is little likelihood that some of the worst offenders will voluntarily make significant safety improvements.
Offshore platform accidents
The type and amount of recovery due to a person injured while working offshore varies depending on the type of rig or platform on which they were working at the time, and whether the rig or platform was located in state or federal waters. To understand how to file a claim for compensation, injured workers should get in touch with a personal injury attorney with experience handling these unique and complicated cases.