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MMS Moving to Mandate Safety Standards for Rig Workers

MMS Moving to Mandate Safety Standards for Rig Workers
Minerals Management Service (MMS) has finally decided to regulate safety standards that are mandatory for rig workers after a long procedure. The Deepwater Horizon blast that took place two months ago has made the authorities more concerned about the safety matters of the workers. According to a senior official at the retooled Minerals Management Service (MMS), the worker-safety standards in place for offshore oil rigs were voluntary developed in consultation with the oil industry two months before the Deepwater Horizon blast.

Doug Slitor, acting chief of offshore regulatory programs at the reorganized MMS, has told the members of the House Education and Labor Committee that his office has now worked to turn the once-recommended worker safety guidelines -- drafted with the American Petroleum Institute -- into a mandatory program.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the Education and Labor panel said, "Safety process management rules are absolutely critical. It is stunning that we don't have one in place for these rigs. When you're taking advice from the oil industry, you have to balance that off.”

Rear Adm. Kevin Cook told lawmakers said that OSHA has authority regarding the safety of the workers on land and near shore in the Gulf, but the problem is that the agency's jurisdiction stops 3 miles offshore. The Coast Guard acknowledged legal power over offshore rigs in 1979 but later delegated some safety inspection responsibilities to MMS.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said, "It's time that we realized cleanup crews are being exposed to unhealthy chemicals and toxins that can have debilitating health effects."

Michaels said, “Narrow focus on worker injuries or illnesses at oil rigs, refineries and chemical plants is unlikely to provide the level of protection required to monitor complex energy facilities.”