BP admitted Wednesday that it had fallen short of safety standards after the death of another worker at its Texas City refinery this week. William Joe Garcia, an operations supervisor with 32 years’ experience, died on Monday in the third fatality at the refinery since a massive blast nearly three years ago claimed 15 lives.

Late last year BP paid out $370 million in fines related to those deaths.

A spokesman for BP said that the group’s safety standards were “not where we want to be,” despite a $1 billion safety improvement program, including a six-month shutdown.

The latest accident, which happened after a metal lid blew off a pressurized water filtration unit and hit Garcia as he prepared to put it back into service, emphasizes the safety issues that have dogged one of the world’s biggest oil companies in the past few years.

The spokesman said that the company was investigating the accident. “Our efforts have been ongoing and we have succeeded in driving safety levels. Our overall safety performance in 2007 will be the best ever,” the spokesman said.

Critics of BP, however, assert that the latest death was symptomatic of a lax approach to safety.

“Despite what they’re doing to improve safety, fatalities are still happening,” Brent Coon, the lawyer representing victims of the 2005 disaster, said. “The company is desensitized to the risks these people are working with.”

OSHA has begun an investigation of the latest incident.

Source: Time Online (www.timesonline.co.uk)