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Are relaxed drilling rules in Gulf imperiling workers’ safety?

We referenced in a recent Simien & Simien blog post “an ongoing debate marked by a regulation-versus-profit rift” surrounding the country’s maritime industry. We underscored specifically in our firm’s March 10 blog entry a growing view that recently authored federal regulations have eroded safety protections for offshore workers and exposed them to increased dangers.

Ironically, maritime safety in the Gulf of Mexico was unquestionably enhanced not that long ago, following beefed-up safeguards mandated by regulators after the tragic Deepwater Horizon marine oil spill that occurred in 2010. Those measures reportedly wrought material safety gains that were evident across the maritime realm.

Principals with the think tank Center for American Progress note now, though, that those gains have not just stalled but, rather, have been reversed over the past couple years. One center spokesperson says that a pullback of safety rules commenced by the current presidential administration in 2018 has led to “an unraveling of safety gains made after Deepwater Horizon.” Critics of the legislative retreat says that its underlying rationale relates solely to a desire to favor pro-business interests at the expense of offshore workers’ safety.

Relevant numbers seem telling. Reportedly, government documents indicate a 21% jump in maritime workers’ injuries in 2018/2019 compared with the immediately preceding two-year period. And offshore worker deaths within 2019 alone totaled more than was the case for the preceding five years combined.

A center official calls the upward trend “a wake-up call” to federal regulators.

“It’s reckless, wrong and there needs to be an immediate reckoning,” he says.