Much of our news in recent months is about the more than 2.5 million gallons of oil that have been gushing daily into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deep Horizon Oil Rig spill began in April of this year. Only just recently has the oil flow been stopped. It has taken an excruciating length of time even though some of the brightest scientists in the business, backed by a seemingly unlimited expense account, have been giving it their best shot.
Volunteers and emergency responders have come from far and wide to the Gulf of Mexico, providing whatever assistance they can with the on-going clean-up effort. Federal, state and local government entities are present in all stages of this disaster. Multi-billion dollar payouts from a number of sources are promised to those who have lost income or loved ones.OSHA stepped in to affirm that all of these people must be trained prior to getting involved in any cleanup work. Of course, there is a major time crunch associated with this training—the faster workers can be trained, the sooner they can help.
After viewing detailed reports about circumstances leading up to the spill many have come to the conclusion that BP chose profit over safety. As a result they are suffering and causing countless others to suffer along with them. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated event. There have been reports of BP and other large corporations ignoring safety regulations in favor of increased productivity for decades, as seen by the Massey Mining disaster in March of this year.
A number of news reports about circumstances leading up to the spill have come to the conclusion that private contractors chose profit over safety. As a result they are suffering and causing countless others to suffer along with them. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated event. There have been reports of other organizations ignoring safety regulations in favor of increased productivity or schedule achievement for decades, as seen by Bhopal, the Challenger disaster and the Massey Mining disaster in March of this year . Yes, these disastrous errors in judgment and execution occur in government run organizations as well as in private enterprise.
Hopefully we will learn many lessons from these events. Most importantly, we should understand that cutting corners in safety compliance issues does not pay off in the long run. In the end, it is only a matter of time before the "solutions" birthed by expediency break down and we are forced to deal with the larger ramifications of choosing to ignore the difficult issues. Once again we see how painful it is to our nation and local populations when they experience the unfortunate true costs of being unsafe.
A healthy safety culture doesn’t hide problems in the background, but gathers its workers and engages them to create solutions to the daily problems that exist wherever we work. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see something that is unsafe. Open communication is a vital key to a thriving, zero incident safety culture.