May 31, 2011 by Matt Shudtz

OSHA Releases Self-Evaluation of its Role in Federal Response to BP Oil Spill

OSHA published a report (pdf) last week on its role in the federal government’s response to last year’s massive oil spill. Within days of the blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon, OSHA officials were in Louisiana, working to ensure that the people involved in the response and cleanup had adequate protection from the myriad hazards they would face. The new report is mainly a list of accomplishments, not an introspective “lessons learned” self-evaluation that could have paved the way for policy changes that would improve the federal oil spill response system. Nevertheless, the document is worth the read because it provides a good sense of the difficulty OSHA faced in protecting a huge workforce from so many hazards, as part of an unprecedented government response.

The report covers a handful of areas where OSHA did most of its work: site visits, intervention, and technical support; chemical exposure assessment; personal protective equipment (PPE); training; guidance and publications; community outreach; injury and illness reporting; and efforts to support the Labor Department’s big-picture goals of hiring local and displaced workers. 

The report’s sections on enforcement and training missed some key points that I would have liked to see the agency …

May 21, 2010 by Victor Flatt

BP CEO Tony Hayward has been careful to say his company will pay for the "clean-up" from the oil spill -- meaning, not the damages. But if past disasters are any guide, the clean-up will be just a small fraction of the damages from the spill (the deaths, the damage of the oil to natural resources and the humans that depend on them, and more). Many media have commented that Hayward is a “jerk,” but the who-pays-for-the-damages problem isn't really about Hayward and BP. Rather, it points out a weakness with our health and safety laws not unique to this case – they do not always demand and require that industry pay for the harm it causes society.

Hayward, in fact, has been answering in the only way that he legally can while still representing the shareholders of the corporation. Why? The law (specifically the Oil Pollution Act, passed …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
May 31, 2011

OSHA Releases Self-Evaluation of its Role in Federal Response to BP Oil Spill

May 21, 2010

Don't Blame Tony Hayward: Why We Need Laws and Regulations That Specifically Hold Parties Liable for the Harm They Cause