Contact: Lynne Baker, USW Communications, o) 615-831-6782, c) 615-828-6169
(Pittsburgh)—With yet again another accident within the oil industry, the United Steelworkers (USW) union today again called for an overhaul of health and safety within the oil sector.
Last reports have 15 workers injured, including seven critically, and at least 11 others missing after an explosion and fire Tuesday night on the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig located in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard said most of the 126 people on the rig were thought to have escaped safely after the explosion at about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The cause(s) of the explosion are unknown at this time.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and coworkers of those injured or missing because of this awful tragedy,” said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads the union’s oil sector. “While this is a dangerous industry, there are too many workers losing their lives. “
Transocean Ltd. owns and operates the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was under contract to BP PLC. According to a news report, BP said Transocean was carrying out the work on BP’s behalf and was responsible for safety on the rig. The oil major’s staff on the rig works with Transocean’s drilling team to ensure the work is done to BP’s specifications.
“This is the oil industry’s fourth health and safety incident involving worker deaths or injuries in the past two-and-a-half weeks,” Beevers said. “How many more workers have to pay the price for the industry’s lack of a safety culture? The industry is long overdue for a complete overhaul of its health and safety provisions.”
Six workers were killed as a result of an April 2 explosion and fire at Tesoro’s Anacortes, Wash., refinery. Three workers were injured, two seriously, April 14 in a fire at ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge, La., refinery. One worker was killed April 19 in a crane incident on the Motiva Enterprises expansion project in Port Arthur, Texas.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, atomic energy and the service sector.