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Cleanup Team Working with Risky Safety Nets

Cleanup Team Working with Risky Safety Nets
The safety and the health of the clean up workers at the Gulf of Mexico oil spill areas has become an issue of great concern. Now, 19,000 temporary workers have volunteered to assist in the clean up operation at the BP oil spill sites. But it is not known till now who is responsible for ensuring the safety and health of those workers involved in this dangerous work.

The government finally has woken up and announced that they will make greater contributions towards worker safety in the Gulf. They announced this after more than 50 days of the rig explosion.

According to Labor and environmental advocates, worker safety in the Gulf is insecure. The safety disaster at the rig explosion includes:

  • A massive toxic spill.
  • The rapid deployment of a vast work force over four states.
  • Limited government resources.
  • BP’s dismal safety record.
  • To wear heavy protective gear is extremely uncomfortable in hot temperatures.
  • Non-English speaking workers involved in the effort have problems with communication.
  • The desire among many workers sidelined by the disaster to do any work they can.
The confusion that stems from the government as to who is in charge of the protection of the 24,000 individuals who are engaged in the clean up operations, is a major cause for alarm. 24,000 workers, including 19,000 contract workers who are dispersed offshore all along the coast lines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, are all at risk.

Former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Ed Foulke said, “Are people going to fall between the cracks? Unfortunately probably so.”

It is now an open secret that workers are protected by "a hodgepodge of regulations.” But, is this the way things are meant to be?