Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary for OSHA, testified last week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. Part of his prepared statement appears below:
"Chair Murray, Ranking Member Isakson, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to join you this morning for this necessary conversation about worker safety in our nation's energy production industries. This issue has most recently been brought to the public's attention in the most tragic way possible, with deaths of 11 workers and injuries to 17 others as the result of the April 20th explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform. The Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred even as OSHA continues to deal with the ramifications of the 2005 fire and explosion at BP's Texas City refinery that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others, and to help our Washington State Plan partners investigate the April explosion at a Tesoro refinery that left seven more workers dead.
"What have we learned from these tragic events? Certainly we have learned that in our nation's energy producing industry, the status quo is not working. In the past four months alone, at least 58 workers have died in explosions, fires and collapses at refineries, coal mines, an oil drilling rig and a natural-gas-fired power plant construction site. Not all of these tragedies are within OSHA's jurisdiction; the Deepwater Horizon was an offshore drilling facility, technically a "vessel" not subject to OSHA requirements, while mine safety is within the purview of OSHA's sister agency, the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Nevertheless, the toll of worker deaths and injuries on the job is sounding an alarm about a major problem throughout the energy industries â€• a problem that OSHA must help address.
"Secretary Hilda Solis' vision for the Department of Labor is "good jobs for everyone." Good jobs are safe jobs, and we must do more to ensure that all of our nation's workers, including those in the energy industries, can go home safely when their work is done.
To read the full statement, go to
Barab testifies on worker safety in energy production industries before Senate subcommittee (6/14)
June 14, 2010