BP’s SLOW BLEED: Now reports say the Gulf gusher might go until August, when two relief wells are completed. Where will BP’s stock be by then?
Congressman George Miller (D-CA) takes some shots: “BP has a history of cost cutting. They have a history of workers dying on the job. They have a history of failing to maintain their equipment that has led to environmental disasters. What we’re seeing in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast today is just the latest example of BP playing Russian roulette with the lives of their workers, our precious environment, and local economies - all in the name of increasing profit at what is already one of the most profitable corporations in the world,” he said at a congressional hearing held by the Natural Resources Committee.
NO BLACK SWANS
Miller with the gloves off: “BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was not some ‘black swan’ or ‘perfect storm’ event. This was not something that could not have been foreseen. And this was not something that you can promise will never happen again. There is a theme that now seems to weave though many of BP’s decisions: trading off risks versus profits, and the costs are being shouldered by the families of the 11 dead workers, and the livelihoods of those who depend on the gulf.”
OSHA BRINGS THE HEAT
Even Fortune 100 companies with the most sophisticated safety and health management systems are feeling the sting of the agency’s ratcheted up enforcement. They are particular concerned about National Emphasis Programs targeting recordkeeping and process safety management. And the severe violators penalty policy that multiply penalty totals.
Sure, even seven-figure fines are chump change for multinationals. But safety and health pros have execs to answer to.
POTUS GOES ON OFFENSIVE: The President of the United States in yesterday’s press briefing says “If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.
”For years, there’s been a far too cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them… it’s critical that we take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates and how our government oversees those operations.
SAFETY RULES CAN’T KEEP UP
…with many things, including the biotech industry, saysThe New York Timesin a lengthy piece on Sunday. Highlights:
“Last September, a University of Chicago scientist died after apparently being infected by the focus of his research: the bacterium that causes plague.”
“…the estimated 232,000 employees in the nation’s most sophisticated biotechnology labs work amid imponderable hazards.”
OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels is quoted: “Worker safety cannot be sacrificed on the altar of innovation. We have inadequate standards for workers exposed to infectious materials.”
Says Michaels: “The OSHA laboratory standard deals with chemicals. It doesn’t deal with infectious agents.”
“Earlier this month, as a first step toward possible new regulations, the agency issued a sweeping request for information on occupational risks from infectious agents, and for suggestions on how best to reduce them.”
ReportsThe Times: “OSHA does not have jurisdiction over many academic and government biolabs, where there have been dozens of known cases of worker illness or at least exposure to harmful agents.”
HERE COMES THE SAFETY PROGRAM RULE
Find and fix hazards. Find and fix hazards. It is becoming a mantra with Dr. Michaels.
Clearly his number one standards priority is the so-called I2P2, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule, now just in it embryonic stages. InThe Times piece, the OSHA chief says he expects OSHA to eventually require employers, consulting with employees, to identify all potential hazards in their workplaces and to take steps to reduce them.
OSHA then can cite employers for failure to adequately implement “find and fix.”