Safety and OSHA News

BP Photoshops picture of its crisis command center

You can’t blame any company for being proud of its safety program — perhaps so proud that it wants to put photos about its safety program on its company website. But, as a safety pro, would you allow those photos to be altered? And what if the company we’re talking about is BP?

John Aravosis’ Americablog first uncovered the altered photos on BP’s website of its crisis command center in Houston.

Someone cut and pasted three underwater images onto a wall of video feeds from remotely operated undersea vehicles.

Among the giveaways that someone used Photoshop:

  • one image sticks down into the head of one of the people sitting in the control room
  • there are jagged white lines showing the cut-and-paste job, and
  • the side of one image hangs down below the area on which the video feeds were projected.

“I guess if you’re doing fake crisis response, you might as well fake a photo of the crisis response center,” Aravosis writes on his blog.

A BP spokesman told The Washington Post that this isn’t anything sinister. He said a photographer working for BP inserted the three images in spots where the video screens were blank.

BP has posted the original photo, without the cut-and-paste video images, on its website.

The controversy doesn’t stop there. An Americablog reader noticed that the meta info for the photo says it was created in 2001, not July 16, 2010 as claimed by BP.

And we’ll add our own question to the mix: After three months with the leaking oil well in the Gulf, BP couldn’t find one moment to take a photo when all the video screens were filled?

So, put yourself in this situation. To promote that “Safety is No. 1” at your company, someone in marketing has posted a photo on your company website that’s been Photoshopped to show an aspect of safety that wasn’t there at the time — maybe workers wearing hardhats are pasted onto a photo. Do you let it go or object?

And what about BP? Does this altered photo say something about the company, or is it really no big deal? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. Although this may be innocent enough, the company’s gulf operations and obvious disregard for safety requirements resulting in the spill cast a large shadow on everything they do. Their integrity as a company at this point will take a long while to rebuild, things like this just seem to be par for the course. And many say safety is not as important as selling and producing. This case is a prime example of cheating in safety only leads to worse problems…

  2. With BP under a microscope for being responsible for the greatest Environmental Distaster in recorded history, and since their lack of Safety was a direct or contributing cause for the explosion of the oil rig, which caused the leak, they need to be doing it better and cleaner than everyone else. Public preception of BP is very poor, and if they were smart, and wanted to try to change their public image, they should be doing it straight, with full transparency. This picture, will just reinforce the distrust the public has for BP.

  3. Scott fortier says:

    B.P. hammers its contractors with safety all the time but when bad things happen they are responsible for they’re own actions and the actions of their contractors.

  4. Gee, severely underestimating the initial spill, hiding the physical damage in wildlife killed, posting fake pictures, anything to pass the buck and dodge responsibility while claiming you are doing everything you can to deal with the problem. Some culture of safety. BP, the only thing we care about is our profit margin!

  5. Ron Clinedinst says:

    There are really two issues here. First, it appears that BP has tried to cover too many mistakes and they continue to do so. I agree with the article about not taking a photo during the “real” crisis. Why didn’t they; continued mistakes? Second, I agree that the spill is one of the worst disasters in history but because there was so much emphasis placed on the spill, I believe too many people have forgotten about the workers who lost their lives due to BP’s safety neglect. If my memory serves me right, one of the workers reported the safety concern and it was not corrected. BP seems to forget about safety as long as they can make a huge profit. Oil companies are making record profits but at what expense to their employees safety? I guess it will take three or more years to find out how and why this occurred and what can be done to correct it.

  6. The cut and paste may well have been done with only good intentions, but the fact that they put something into the picture that wasn’t there, implies that there was something to cover up. In accounting, one did not use “White-out” or erase errors. One draws a line through the error and writes in the correct information. To cover up, creates suspicion. In school we were taught that if any portion of a statement was false, then it was false. Safety is not something one “doctors.” At the very least, it was poor judgment on the part of BP.


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