Last year, fifteen people were killed by a sudden explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Last month, four more people were killed at a pesticide plant in La Porte, Texas. Mr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, the Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, characterized the present situation as a “safety crisis.”
Chairman Moure-Eraso called for immediate improvement of safety standards. Those currently in effect have essentially remained unchanged for twenty years. In addition, they do not apply to drilling operations. With the steep increase in drilling activity during the past several years, including in the Eagle Ford Shale formation, injuries and deaths among workers have likewise increased. Having 216 fatalities from 2008 to 2012, Texas has the nation’s highest number of these workplace casualties. Chairman Moure-Eraso described the industry as “seriously under-regulated.”
Not surprisingly, industry disagrees. It seeks no increase in regulation, though it remains unclear how business executives plan to reverse the growing tide of worker deaths and injuries with no change in procedures.
Recommendations by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board for improved safety regulations will be considered by governmental agencies in upcoming year. As always, those advocating for workplace protections will be bitterly opposed by industries in which profits count more than employee-safety.