Editorials

Improving Safety for Offshore Workers in The Gulf of Mexico

With the introduction of a new online dashboard, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) hopes to identify and minimize the risks experienced by rig workers in all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. This includes the Gulf of Mexico, bordered at the top by Texas and Louisiana, and one of the country’s leading producers of petroleum. According to the BSEE, there were over 1,800 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico in 2019, and now the area is also set to accommodate increasing offshore wind farm development.  Working at sea can be extremely hazardous, and as well as reducing the environmental risks of oil spills, greater access to safety data and further employee training will help to improve the safety of offshore workers.

Training to Reduce Human Error in High-Risk Situations

One of the most notable offshore disasters occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when an accident on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig resulted in the death of 11 people and the largest marine oil spill in history. While not always as serious, accidents on offshore installations are common, and companies are constantly looking at ways to reduce their occurrence. According to a maritime injury lawyer in Texas, improper crew training is one of the primary causes of offshore accidents. The risk of serious injury from a trip or fall, explosion, or mechanical failure can be reduced when workers are adequately trained. In addition to conventional training schedules, offshore energy companies are being encouraged to share a mindfulness program with their workers to help them remain focused even in high-risk situations and minimize the risk of human error.  While gentle meditative techniques may seem incongruous with tough offshore workers, recent research by the University of Houston has revealed how the practice of mindfulness can significantly improve their health, safety and general well-being.

Resilient Support Systems for Offshore Wind Development

As well as hundreds of oil platforms, the Gulf of Mexico could soon be accommodating more offshore wind developments. The strong and consistent winds off the Texas coast make it suitable for turbine development, while Louisiana would like to pursue an offshore wind policy to meet the state’s zero-carbon targets. Two new wind farms have been proposed off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana and could create up to 17,500 offshore jobs both in construction while the turbines are erected and in operations after they become active. With accelerated growth in the offshore wind industry, the continued health and safety of workers must remain a priority. A recent Health and Safety Summit held by the Business Network for Offshore Wind in New Orleans addressed the need for greater data collection and the creation of resilient support systems to ensure that it is properly stored and interpreted to improve levels of safety in the industry.

Thousands of people are employed in hazardous jobs working on platforms and wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico. As well as encouraging employees to stay focused on high-risk tasks, collecting more safety and maintenance data can help to Identify hazards and limit safety risks for workers.

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