Are Louisiana’s oil refineries really safe? Experts and union leaders say they might be far more hazardous than workers would imagine. As a result, a growing number of advocates are pushing regulatory agencies to adopt European safety standards, which could reduce the number of employees who are injured while working on area oil rigs.
Louisiana’s oil industry admittedly has a bad reputation. Scores of employees have had to turn to workers’ compensation attorneys after devastating spills and other accidents. Although safety has improved at some locations throughout the state, environmental statistics are still abhorrent, and people continue to be injured on the job.
European oil rigs are generally considered safer because that region has adopted the Seveso directive. That policy, promulgated after a devastating chemical plant explosion in Italy in the 1970s, requires chemical companies and oil refineries to draft and implement certain safety policies. Those companies must be able to demonstrate that they have rules in place to prevent serious accidents.
Now, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is postulating that adopting a similar system could have a positive impact on rates of accidents in the U.S. at such plants. Representatives from advocacy agencies say that regulatory relationships are key to improving safety at the nation’s oil refineries. Under the proposed mandates, regulators would be required to judge a plan for effectiveness, and they would then closely monitor operations to ensure that the policies are being successfully implemented.
Studies show that financial losses are about three times higher at U.S. refineries when compared to those in Europe. That is because those facilities simply have fewer workplace accidents. Sweeping regulatory changes could help American oil companies protect workers – and their bottom line – through increased monitoring and accountability.
Source: The Huffington Post, “U.S. Eyes European Safety Standards for Oil Refineries” Susan Buchanan, Apr. 15, 2014