In the wake of the April 20 oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers, an article by ProPublica, an investigative journalism website, quotes former BP employees as saying management pressured or harassed them not to report safety problems. Reports detailing BP internal investigations in 2001, 2004 and 2007 were provided to ProPublica by a person close to BP who believes the company hasn’t yet done enough to correct safety and environmental shortcomings.
Separate interviews with former BP employees back up the findings of the internal investigations.
Included in ProPublica’s report:
- BP’s internal 2001 report warned that the company faced a “fundamental culture of mistrust” by its workers, in part because senior management lacked a structure of accountability.
- The 2004 internal investigation stated, “Pressure on contractor management to hit performance metrics (e.g. fewer OSHA recordables) creates an environment where fear of retaliation and intimidation did occur.”
- Once again in 2007, a report echoed BP’s previous internal investigations, finding, BP pressured its contractors and employees to save money. “Many of the people interviewed indicate that they felt pressured for production ahead of safety and quality,” the report said.
The BP situation has caught the attention of OSHA head David Michaels, and he ties it to one of his predominant current themes about injury logs.
At the recent American Industrial Hygiene Conference in Denver, Michaels said he was struck by the fact that top executives at BP were on the offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico handing out certificates and awards to people for having worked seven years without a recordable injury, the very night before the rig blew up.
Michaels called for reforms that stop measuring safety performance by injuries or lack thereof, and instead start measuring risk of significant events occurring.
ProPublica’s article is here.
How do you encourage employees to let management know about hazards? Let us know in the Comments Box below.