As the Gulf of Mexico waters continue to be spoiled by oil and chemicals released from the BP oil well, we are reminded that too many times companies “put the cart before the horse.” Only after an accident such as this, causing the loss of life of eleven people, injuries to many workers, and ruining the livelihoods of thousands who depend on fishing and tourism, do we begin to point the finger of blame. Congressmen are trying to find out why it happened, but what are they going to do about it? Where are the ones responsible to initiate plans to prevent these mishaps, rather than wait until it’s too late?
An example of this is the tragedy in West Virginia, where several miners lost their lives in the explosion at the Upper Big Branch South Mine, on April 5th. Shortly afterwards, we learned about the numerous safety violations that their company, Massey Energy, had committed. If corrections to the citations had been made, it’s possible that the explosion may not have happened. According to an Associated Press release of June 15, 2010, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is heading a civil investigation of the explosion, which is also the subject of a federal criminal probe. Hopefully, something will be done to keep our miners safer in their daily work.
“Safety First” should be the motto of every company, and it should mean just that. Every employee should have the assurance that he will go home at the end of his/her shift. There are many dangerous jobs out there, and working on a drilling rig is one of them. Jobs that provide energy for this country are risky, and the people who do that type of work know that. But they should be able to trust that the company they are working for is not going to cut corners or take shortcuts to complete the job because of the bottom dollar figure. The result of this accident is going to cost billions of dollars and years of repair to restore the Gulf Coast region. It is taking not only a human toll to those who live and work in the area, but birds, animals and sea life have paid with their lives. We salute those who are working diligently to save as many birds and sea creatures as possible.
It is time that whatever agencies “oversee” safety regulations do what is expected of them. That’s what our tax dollars are paying them to do. We hope that the people of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are compensated fairly in a timely manner for their losses. Drilling has gone on in the Gulf of Mexico for years without tragedies such as this. We need the oil that the Gulf of Mexico can furnish, and those persons who work on drilling rigs need their jobs. Citizens should expect that our government agencies enforce all employers in every type of business to fulfill their obligation to their employees by abiding by the details of their safety policies and procedures. This is a hard lesson in “crying over spilled oil” instead of “crying over spilled milk.”