Safety Awards That Endanger Employees’ Lives

BP, Massey Power and Tesoro all have hauled out plaques celebrating safety achievements to deflect allegations of company recklessness within the aftermath of explosions in April that killed 47 of their workers.

Although each of these companies accepted awards for safety statistics, not one has taken duty for office deaths.

The disconnect between safety awards and lifeless employees has enabled these companies to characterize the explosions as accidents, random occasions for which no one really is to blame, actually not corporate officials who control situations in workplaces. That’s why these pseudo-safety awards are so destructive.

The prizes congratulate firms for decreasing incidents similar to slips and falls that injure employees to the point that they must miss work. Decreasing worker accidents is nice, little doubt about it. However preserving employees’ lives is imperative. The corporate awards applications fail to recognize employers who efficiently institute more sophisticated, costly and rigorous procedures referred to as “process security administration” to eliminate office catastrophes that kill.

Awards for slip and fall reduction promote complacency. The plaques hanging in hallways say the oil rig or coal mine or refinery is tremendous protected – so secure it is worthy of commemoration. They create the illusion of safety in workplaces the place process safety management hasn’t been properly applied. The security plaques are paper shields, easily immolated in explosions, along with the employees they beguiled.

Some BP executives truly experienced slightly of that burn on April 20. A gaggle of BP bigwigs was aboard Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico when it exploded. They’d traveled out to the oil rig to have a good time a safety milestone. Employees on the rig had gone seven years with no misplaced-time accident – effectively, seven years with out reporting one, anyway. Corporations routinely subtly and overtly discourage employees from reporting injuries. For example, corporations grant money awards for designated time periods during which no damage reviews are filed and force mishap victims to put on distinctive clothing like orange vests so they get the blame – and not the corporation – for harm reports that price entire crews their cash awards.

The BP executives escaped Deepwater Horizon with their lives. Eleven roustabouts and roughnecks on that day of security celebration didn’t.

Simply final year, the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP and Transocean, the proprietor of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Security Awards for Excellence -Safe awards. MMS bestows these on offshore oil and gasoline corporations for “outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance.” Again this 12 months, BP was a finalist for a Secure award. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, MMS postponed announcement of this year’s winners. Last yr, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Well being Administration (OSHA) presented BP Alaska with a 3-yr re-certification of its Star award, which acknowledges safety performance.

All of that may lead workers to believe BP is a safe employer – not just like the BP with a refinery in Texas City, Texas that blew up in 2005 killing 15 employees and injuring 170, the BP that OSHA slapped with its second largest whole penalty ever — $21 million – for security violations at Texas Metropolis that led to the large explosion, the BP that OSHA hit with its largest ever effective — $87.Four million – last fall for failure over four years to comply with the terms of its settlement settlement to correct the potential hazards at Texas Metropolis.

No, the safety-award-winning BP must be different, a corporation that recognizes its duty to determine and conduct safe workplaces.

A research after the BP-Texas City explosion confirmed that probably the greatest methods to prevent such catastrophes is meeting the standards of course of safety administration. These use engineering and management strategies to continuously ensure that equipment and piping are in good situation, meticulously handle and record modifications, and correctly train employees. The ideas usually are not exclusive to refineries. They can be utilized to enhance safety in different industrial processes as effectively.

The refinery business accepted the method safety requirements however hasn’t rigorously implemented them. The United Steelworkers union, which represents oil workers, met with oil companies and the American Petroleum Institute (API), a commerce group for drillers and refiners, in an attempt to put in writing two new standards addressing main indicators within the refining business and worker fatigue. However the union abandoned the hassle final fall because the trade was more concerned about image than security.

Then, on April 2, an explosion at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash. killed seven employees. Like BP, Tesoro is a security award winner – but not for complete process security management. The Nationwide Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) has granted the Anacortes refinery numerous prizes through the years – “benefit” and “achievement” and “gold” — including two final year. Tesoro notes on its net site that this recognition is for decreasing “recordable damage charges”- the misplaced-time injuries that should be reported to OSHA.

NPRA does not sponsor an award for companies that improve course of security management. It is making an attempt to gather statistics on course of security from drillers and refiners, however participation is anything however compulsory. NPRA stresses that the information it receives on process safety might be collected on an aggregate degree so it isn’t specific to particular person refineries, will probably be stored secret and might be used for benchmarking solely. Clearly, it is striving to entice reticent refiners to take part.

Three days after the Tesoro tragedy, 29 employees died in an explosion in Massey Vitality’s Upper Massive Branch mine in West Virginia. Massey CEO Don Blankenship instantly started blaming God and the employees themselves for the catastrophe and citing Massey’s security awards. In 2009, The National Mining Affiliation and the U.S. Mine Safety and Well being Administration (MSHA) gave Massey three “Sentinels of Security” awards, probably the most any mining company had ever received in one 12 months. These acknowledge, because the NPRA and MMS awards do, low levels of misplaced-time accidents. “At Massey Vitality, we embrace our commitment to safety at all levels – from government to miner. The Sentinels of Safety awards replicate the corporate’s dedication to security at all of our facilities,” Blankenship said six months before the worst mining disaster in 40 years killed 29 Massey workers.

After two Massey miners suffocated in 2006, the corporation pleaded guilty and paid $4.2 million in criminal fines and civil penalties – the most important settlement in coal trade history — for willful violation of necessary security standards. By a depend the United Mine Staff of America carried out, fifty two people have been killed on Massey Power properties up to now decade. UMWA President Cecil Roberts called Massey mines essentially the most harmful in America.

And yet, Blankenship touts Massey’s safety awards. Like BP and Tesoro.

The standards for these prizes must change to stop deluding staff and deceiving the public. No agency or association ought to ever again laud workplaces which might be lax on meeting process safety management requirements.

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